I have a fascination with artistic enclaves - artists who are genuinely friends, colleagues and peers who choose to hang out because they like and are inspired by one another. Probably I first came across it with the Algonquin Table (and I've wanted to be in a group like that ever since) but I also read that Hemmingway hung out on the Left Bank doing the same thang.
When I go to (masters) art exhibitions, I usually spend a bit of time at the beginning of the showing reading the blurbs and checking out where the artist lived, what art schools they went to, and what groups they hung out in. I love being able to spot the influences of other artists in work and I love seeing how art evolves and responds as artists speak to one another or become influenced by one another. I love the synergy of it. Probably part of that comes from my mother and uncle who have a great love of literature, history and art and have always taught me general knowledge type things within that context, "You have to understand that whilst this was happening, over there blah blah blah was going on." That kind of information always seems so much more interesting when presented as like, gossip.
A couple of months ago, I was watching Capote and was happily surprised to discover that his very good friend was Harper Lee. I didn't know that before. A bit of wiki and googling about told me that they were the best of friends from childhood and that she helped him with a lot of the research and interviews that he did for In Cold Blood. I've never had any interest in reading To Kill a Mockingbird - I've never thought that was a book I would be able to read for fun. And I was in the other English stream at school and missed it. Now though, I find that I MUST read it and read it and Capote's work in the context of each other - that they were friends and would have influenced each other in perhaps overt and subversive ways.
This kind of thing had me thinking about the Aussie SF scene a bit. There's something about having an idea and having someone to bounce it off or tinker with it and then throw it back at you. You only have to look at the success of the members of a group like RoR to see it can work. I often say that yeah, it depends on who's in the group, not every group can be successful. But I do really think that work that comes out of groups like that, and I don't mean team efforts, I mean work that comes as a result of being part of a vibrant, supportive and dynamic peer group, feels more ... alive? interesting? We all want to be cutting edge. I think having people right on the line and to kinda give you a shove every now and then in return for being shoved, is a lot of what that's about.
Twelfth Planet Press has evolved in this way - I'm influenced by those around me. I'm privvy to all sorts of thoughts and view points and I have peers whom I really respect that I can shoot ideas off to and say, "what do you think". And we often ideas for future projects come from an afternoon or evening of drinks and shooting the breeze. I think a really important part of my growth has been asking for feedback and actively taking it on board. I have a lot of people who offer ideas for the tinkering or who will help me figure out how to tinker with something. And I am lucky to be in a little enclave that shoves or kicks me in the arse more than every now and then. Probably I could use a bit more absynthe to get it just about right. I at least have a few Dorothy Parkers in my daily life :P