“Easy reading is damned hard writing.”
Seth Godin is an author and online marketing guru who has made his mark by helping people find innovative and nontraditional ways to pursue their livelihoods. In his books and blog, Seth always advises people to find their “tribe.” While I’ve never used that word before in relation to my writing, it seems just right. Now I could use “fellow travelers” or “other writers,” and I often use “writing buddies.” But more recently, I’ve begun embracing the word “tribe,” and I’m beginning to feel that it’s just perfect.
Now I could look it up in the dictionary, but I’m going to make up my own definition, which is always a great exercise for a writer. To me, the word “tribe” describes a constellation of like-minded people who share my values and aspirations. They are people who care about some of the same things I care about: in terms of writing, this means they love words, want to improve their craft, and are committed to getting to the next level. The word has an intimate feeling to me: People who are part of my tribe “get me” in an intimate, fundamental way — and I know them in a similar way: they understand my hopes and dreams, and my fears and doubts, because in some mysterious way, they share them. In my mind, you can meet complete strangers, talk with them for a few minutes, and realize that they are not really strangers to you: they are part of your tribe.
Just yesterday, I found two new members of my tribe: William and Nicole. William is a journalist who made the plunge into fiction and is determined to making a living at it over the long term (www.weekendwillie.com). I admire his dedication and dream-catching skills. And Nicole is a lovely mother of two I met at Starbucks (where I am now sitting). In about two minutes, we found out that we both went to Middlebury College (Alex is graduating in a few weeks — can’t believe it!) and are writers. Nicole even knows my beloved sister Stephanie, who gave her some great advice about writing. Nicole and I exchanged blog addresses (hers is http://www.drinkingcoffeeallthetime.com — love that title!). I admire her creativity and ability to pursue a writing career while raising her family. It’s all very exciting. How wonderful to have more writers to learn from and support! Write on.
Karin, I love this idea of “tribe.” It perfectly captures the experience of being a writer in a community where so many of us are writing. The notion of being tribal is incredibly appealing in this context—and when you factor in the “3-degrees-of-separation” dynamic that we experienced yesterday, it is clear that you’re on to something. Oh—and I love the idea of dream-catching. Kudos to William and to you too.
Here’s to writing and running into each again soon! Nicole
Thanks so much for your note. So glad you the “tribe” idea caught your
fancy just as it did mine. It is so comforting to think that there are
constellations of people we can connect with in a deeply satisfying way.
I’m so glad we met and look forward to staying in touch.