Finding your tribe

I hear a lot of authors online talk about finding one’s tribe — connecting to a like-minded (or genre-minded) group of writers for artistic support, encouragement, and guidance. It’s an incredibly important aspect to the profession, not just because networking can be beneficial to authors’ careers, but because writing is a very isolating job and if we don’t connect with others, we’re going to lose our ever-freaking minds.

Seriously.

I do not currently have a tribe, in that I don’t belong to a group. However, I have liaisons to other tribes. I have my very best writer friend, Katie, who joins me on two-person writing retreats. Who I can contact via Facebook Messenger for a quick peptalk and get an equally quick reply. Who reads my scenes to see if they’re boring. I have my buddy Stephen, a horror writer, who manages a group blog (ahem, a different one) penned by a team of writers from various genres. I have my friend, Melinda, a local YA author who I met last fall. We live ten minutes apart (a miracle since I live in such a rural area) and we meet once a week to hang out and write. In fact, she and I just attended an author reading in town on Friday. And then we went to dinner and we talked…shop! And it was awesome.

*These are photos from our outing to see Manjula Martin read from her latest book, Scratch. It was a packed house!

There is no substitute for talking craft and publishing with another writer who gets what you’re saying. My husband, as smart a guy as he is, doesn’t care about publishing trends in YA or advances (well, maybe he cares about that) or the merits of first-person narration for a hardboiled mystery. But Melinda does. Katie does. Stephen does. And so, while I don’t belong to a local critique group or an online marketing collective like many authors I know, I have formed relationships with various authors, some online, some in-person, that have made writing a less isolating endeavor, and more like a virtual office.

These professional relationships are crucial. Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert (like me), writers must connect to other writers, and often. It’s hard to enjoy this business otherwise.

If you’re a writer, do you belong to a tribe? And if you’re a reader, do you belong to a monthly book club? A workout group? A motorcycle gang? Surely, you must.

Sound off below.

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Author: Kimberly G. Giarratano

I'm a YA author. And mom of 3. I'm also tired. Very, very tired.

9 thoughts on “Finding your tribe”

  1. I haven’t had a writing group for several years, but I do meet with a group of artists regularly. Right now I’m based in away from home for a couple of months and miss them. Nice to read your blog today. I can pretend there’s someone in the neighborhood.

  2. I’ve been trying to get a SinC chapter locally and no luck. We don’t have enough members. I’m so grateful for my online communities. Without them, I wouldn’t survive.

  3. Sounds like you DO have a tribe! Tribes can be small. They’ll grow. My various tribes all started from a core group of 3. They grew into my critique groups, my bookish tribes, and even my art tribe.

  4. Great topic, Kimberly! Honestly, I feel like I connect with other mystery writers mostly on Facebook. And then there is Malice Domestic, the great gathering of the clans where I get the chance to connect with new friends and reconnect with old ones. I am so looking forward to that. Is anyone else going? It’s in late April.

  5. Community is so important and it sounds like you have a great one! I’m lucky to be a part of local SinC and Mystery Writers of America chapters, not to mention my fellow Mysteristas 😉 As for reading, I’ve been a part of the same book club for a decade–love those ladies!

  6. I’d be lost without my tribe. I go to some local annual writer’s conferences (Pikes Peak Writers Conf and Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers) where I’ve met some fabulous folks who’ve taught me everything I know AND who are excellent personal friends. I have you guys here. I have facebook. I have national confs like Left Coast Crime where I’ve met more of my tribe. And my book club ladies, none of whom are writers, who keep me grounded in the world of readers. And I have my newly-formed local SinC chapter, which is proving to be equally fantastic. Big or small, in person or cyber … you need a tribe!

  7. As a reader, I belong to a couple of book clubs. My favorite is the one at my local mystery book store, The Book Carnival, in Orange Ca. (If you are ever in the area, be sure to set up a signing there). It is my favorite because, of course, I love mysteries. The group shares books we individually have read the past month as well as discussing the current month’s selection. We pick the one book that we will read and discuss the next month (perhaps set in another geographic area, perhaps a book written earlier by an author who will be sharing his/her current book at a book signing, or perhaps compelling book read by one of the members) Through this group I have been exposed to many, many, many new authors, and I love every book we have read.

    I also belong to two additional book clubs that I joined just to read books that I would not have chosen on my own. The book club at my local library reads books chosen by the librarian, mostly because they have won awards. My conclusion is that many times “awards” are given to books with no plots, no continuity and no reason for being other than to take up space on a shelf.

    My other book club is a Facebook group composed of people from all over. We read mostly “light” books chosen by the “moderator.” Most of these are also books I would probably have chosen on my own, but I have enjoyed reading most of them. Sometimes we make suggestions and/or “vote” on selections for upcoming months. On the day of the “meeting” she posts about 10 or 12 questions about the book members post a responses and comments. It is nice to hear reactions from this diverse group of people.

  8. 3 no 7, I had the distinct pleasure to meet Anne Saller, the owner of Book Carnival, last year at Left Coast Crime in Phoenix. She invited me to hold a booksigning in her store, and one of these days I might take her up on it!

    I think we all have a tribe. It might be three people like Kimberly or three thousand like Becky, but the bottom line is human beings need to share their passion. I think if you try to do it yourself, you’ll go blind. (Sorry, it’s been “a day.”)

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