I put up a quick post on my Facebook author page today that advocated Finding Your Tribe. I feel this is important in many aspects of life, but especially for writers. Why? Read on, Macduff, and I shall elaborate.
I’ve always written. Writing is, by its very nature, a pretty solitary activity. I can say, however, that my writing skills escalated wildly when I did two things. Thing one, I joined the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. I had met author Alexandra Flinn at an educator event – a discussion on Why Boys Don’t Read attended by Alex and other YA authors Joyce Sweeney, Dorian Cirrone, and Joanne Hyppolite. While getting my copy of Breathing Underwater signed by Alex, I mentioned that someday, I hoped to be on her side of the table. She gave me her business card and wrote the SCBWI web address on the back. She told me if I was serious about writing for teens, SCBWI was the best organization to join. So I did, the very next day, and I’ve been attending the SCBWI Florida conferences and workshops regularly ever since, which led me to Thing two.
Thing two was receiving a coveted invitation to a private critique group run by Joyce Sweeney. Joyce had gotten on my radar years earlier, when I took a YA Literature class at FAU and she was a guest speaker. She had mentioned running the invitation-only critique groups, and I remember thinking that someday, I wanted to be a good enough writer to earn an invitation. Through many SCBWI events and local classes, I got on her radar, and after taking a class with her through my local library, Joyce invited me to her Thursday group.
So those two things helped me really find my tribe. Through SCBWI, I attended conferences and workshops, working on my craft as I learned what agents and editors looked for. Through Joyce’s critique group, I honed my story-writing skills. And through both, I found my tribe – the storytellers like me.
Find your tribe. It really helps kickstart your creative soul.