Monday, 16 July 2012
Finding your Tribe
As a writer, it can sometimes feel as if we're making this wonderful journey alone. Unless we have a partner, friends or family members who write, we can feel misunderstood and undervalued.
When I was in my late teens, I had a boyfriend who would sneeringly dismiss my writing aspirations because to him, writers were unobtainable celebrities on a par with movie stars. They were on a different planet, of a separate species even. I was just normal, everyday Fiona. How could I possibly ever be a writer?
Writing requires us to go inside ourselves - our imagination, our knitting together of information, our creation of worlds. It is a necessary part of the process and yet, ultimately, isolating. We wish for support and feedback but we often fear to share our work in case it is rejected or dismissed. We are the peculiar individuals crammed into a coffee shop corner, frowning over a mobile phone while we make notes on it, or insanely scribbling into a pad that spills sticky notes and photos ripped from magazines onto the floor. We are the bus-riders who suddenly go "Oh!" and scrabble in our handbags or jacket pockets for something to write on, nodding inanely. We are the ones who virtually rugby tackle our partners as they walk through the door to tell them about our latest chapter or idea for a storyline.
What many writers still haven't realised is that there are a lot of us around. More and more, we don't travel alone. We can be found comparing notes at writing classes and clubs. We crowd together on LinkedIn, chat on Twitter and find fellow scribblers on Facebook. A lot of us blog and in doing so visit each other's blogs and leave comments. There are a whole host of online writing communities too. You don't have to be a solo passenger. Talking to other writers can inspire and reinvigorate our work. We share problems and celebrations. We discuss agents, publishers and booksellers. We throw around ideas. We help each other.
It can be a little nerve wrecking to reach out at first but then change is always scary. It's not as if you're making a lifetime commitment, unless you want to. If you don't like what you find, you can leave and find another community to talk to. The key is to find the tribe that fits you, that feels right, that allows you to be 'you'.
You'll find a lot of writing blogs mentioned here (look at the left hand column) and several writing and creative communities too (right hand column). These are just a start. Do a search online to find more. Look out for notices in your local press, at nearby colleges and school, or in libraries in your area to find writing classes and clubs. If you're feeling particularly brave, start a writing group of your own. Just don't be afraid to reach out.