We all have "tribes." Our church family, the gals at the office, the school mates we've kept in touch with for years, the writers who share our passion for the written word, and the list goes on.
Years ago during my daughter's infant-toddler-preschooler-elementary-school years, my favorite "tribe" was comprised of the moms and families whose lives were intimately touched by cystic fibrosis. Every chance I got, I drank in the wisdom and shared experiences of these folks who daily walked the road of caring for a child with CF. I soaked up every possible moment in their company, these moms and dads who understood the realities of living with a chronically ill child. I rarely passed up an opportunity to be with my "tribe." Because, as I said often, "There's nothing like being with people who really understand what it's like."
My first writers' conference in 1988 introduced me to an arena where wordsmiths honed their craft together, shared common experiences, and generally basked in each others' company. I had driven three hours to an unfamiliar area to spend three days in the company of absolute strangers, in a setting extremely unfamiliar to me. More than once, I questioned what I had gotten myself into. I was sooooo unprepared for the question-of-the-day, "So, what do YOU write?" Why would these unknown-to-me folks care about that? But care they did. I marveled at the depth a conversation with a complete stranger could reach in mere moments when that person shared my passion for writing.
Life took a turn soon after that first conference in the form of a very sick infant. Hence the need for the "CF parents" tribe--a group that steadied this wearied, overwhelmed mother in a profound way.
A couple of years later I sought out a local writers' group. Again, the folks were complete strangers, and I got lost and arrived very late to the first meeting. But since I'd already tasted the sweet nectar of spending time with other writers, I was not deterred. A smaller-scaled affair to be sure, but nonetheless my "tribe."
Now, many moons later, I have several sub-tribes that fall under the general heading of my "writing nation." And each plays an important role in my writing life.
- a local group of eclectic writers who meet monthly, whose company I sorely miss when I cannot attend
- the Scriblerians, writers spread across the U.S. and Canada, whose critiquing, support, encouragement, and prayers have truly been a God-send to my writing pursuits and who have become dear, dear friends
- the folks in a number of online writing groups, many focused around a specific theme such as YA or Indie Publishing, who are quick to share experiences, insights, and wisdom
- any workshop/conference/class/gathering I can squeeze into my schedule that's themed around anything at all to do with writing
Linda and I (pictured above) once drove from Indianapolis to St. Louis to have dinner and spend the evening with a portion of our Scriblerian "tribe." Our baffled husbands' incredulous gazes bounced alternately between Linda and I and each other at the preposterous-ness of our plan. We didn't expect them to understand. We spent the night in a college dorm room, shared breakfast with our dear Scribes and then headed back to Indy. It was incredibly awesome, and we'd do it again in a heartbeat.
Just like during those early parenting days, when I rarely passed up an opportunity to be with my (CF) tribe, I can still, often, be heard exclaiming about my writing-tribe-turned-nation, "There's nothing like being with people who really understand what it's like." You know, to eat, breathe, sleep, and pray writing. To create and live in imaginary worlds. To pound away at a keyboard until the wee morning hours. To use words to paint a picture.
An awesome "tribe" opportunity awaits at the ACFW Indiana "Race Towards Publication" event on Saturday, August 17, from 11:30 - 2:30 at the MCL Township Line in Indianapolis. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
Beth immerses herself in the world of YA via substitute teaching, by connecting with the teenage staff and patrons at the fast food joint where she claims the back booth as her office, and by reading YA fiction.
Check out her Choices Matter series that follows Preston and Maggie as they navigate the choppy waters of high school, guy/girl relationships, and sex.
Beth is also active in the adoption community where she writes and speaks about her experiences as a "foundling" who located her birth parents and is enjoying making up for lost time with her biological family.
Connect with her at BethSteury.com for all the news on upcoming releases. Find her on Facebook at BethSteury, Author; on Twitter @Beth_Steury; and on Instagram and Goodreads. She loves to hear from readers! Write to her at email@example.com.