If you’re in the bookish community, you’ve probably noticed a lot of authors have a writer tribe. For me, the first example that comes to mind is the friendship between Amanda Foody (Ace of Shades) and Christine Lynn Herman (The Devouring Grey). I’ve been following Amanda’s social media for three years, and Christine makes regular appearances… more since Amanda relocated to Boston.
I love writer friendships. They make me so happy.
I’ve always wanted one.
Growing up, a lot of my peers wrote for fun. There was a writing competition at our middle school, and I remember wrangling my friends and we would all enter. I still have some winner certificates somewhere, because I’m a nostalgic packrat. Even as a fifth grader, I loved the camaraderie of sitting around a table in silence with friends, building our own small worlds.
As we got older, there were two of us who kept writing ferociously. Myself, of course, and a girl named Ashley. I loved Ashley, but somehow… we never really connected as writers. We were friends for years, and I still check in on her sometimes when I am thinking of those lost and distant friends… but as writers, that spark was missing. Moving forward to college and the adult experience, the lack of a writer tribe in my life has been keenly felt. There have always been friends who write, and I love them… but somehow, that spark has still been missing.
In part, this is because I falter when I need beta readers. I want someone I know, someone I trust. Someone who reads the types of things I am writing. That’s always been easier said than done. And over the years, I’ve had friends beta read – one was kind and unhelpful, one was very helpful but we aren’t close and thus drifted apart, and all the rest never returned the manuscripts.
For myself, I always felt like I stagnated in editing because… what’s the point? Who will read my work? This is uselessness. I’ll just write another story.
I’m very good at writing another story. I have a plethora of ideas bubbling out of a glorious rainbow fountain of inspiration and I want give life to them all. And it’s nice, you know, to do something you feel confident in. To do something you’re good at.
But that’s not how you write. That’s not how you grow as a writer. And while there are other ways to grow, a writer tribe can be one of the most important.
A writer tribe has your back when the writing gets tough. They ask you if you have made any progress. They are genuinely interested when you want to talk about your WIP. They help you push through problems in your plot or character development. They help make your story better, and they help you refine your skill. These are the people who will pick you up when you get rejection letters, and they are the ones that will have champagne ready when you sell your book. These are your best people.
And it doesn’t matter where they are, or who they are. As long as they are the people you need. It could be a blogging friend in India. It could be your younger brother. Whoever they are, they must support you and be passionate with you. And they are important.
My story has happy ending, because after years of searching for the right fit… I stumbled on to my writer tribe. And they weren’t entirely what I was expecting. I found them at work of all places and for me, the connection was immediate. They are both passionate about their love of writing. One is a novelist, who recently completed her epic fantasy (I AM SO PROUD OF YOU!) and is in the process of editing it. The other is a poet who recently got her Masters and is working on a publishing project with a few of her peers (I AM ALSO SO PROUD OF YOU!). We come from different places, write different things, but we talk about our projects with zeal and support one another.
I could go on and on to talk about how these ladies have changed the game for me – the way they have changed the situation from “this thing I do and don’t talk about because apparently only children still make up stories” to a perfectly acceptable, exciting hobby that we can talk about forever. Because of these two, I have truly learned what it feels like to have a writer tribe and have that kind support.
They are irreplaceable and essential parts of my life and, if you are a writer without a tribe, don’t lose hope! The right people are out there somewhere, waiting for you.
Do you have a writer tribe? Or do you refute the need for a tribe and prefer to be a solitary writer? Tell me all about your style in the comments!