Finding Your Tribe

by Patrick LeClerc


It’s a difficult thing to write in isolation.

For one thing, it’s not easy to find motivation ti write when nobody’s reading what you’ve written. Just having a group pf writers who exchange works on a deadline can help push you to buckle down and be productive. It’s almost like the prospect of an empty liquor cabinet, the idea of not dealing with that just isn’t thinkable. Any writer worth his salt can come up with a rationalization to not write today, but it’s harder when you have to admit to your colleagues that you didn’t write today.

The second thing is that you need somebody else to run an eye over your work. Someone who isn’t too close, the way you are. We know what we mean, even if we don’t convey it. You need somebody else to let you know if your making yourself clear. To call you out of you get too head over heels in love with the sound of your own voice.

So we rely on our writers’ groups. My author friends were invaluable to me getting my books to a state where they were worthy of publication. I can’t thank them enough.

Today, with the ubiquity of the internet, it’s easy to find your tribe. I had friends on three continents reading my manuscripts and offering helpful feedback.

‘Twas not always so.

My first writer’s group, which I renamed the Worst Writers’ Group Ever, formed about 20 years ago. We were all local and met at the local Barnes & Noble bookstore coffee shop to exchange hard copies of our latest works in progress.

And to totally miss one another’s point.

Since we were working with a limited pool of writers, we didn’t share a genre. That’s not a complete deal breaker. Writing is writing, and if it’s unclear it doesn’t matter if it’s hard s/f or romance, any reader can tell you where he or she loses the plot, but it helps if your audience is familiar with the conventions of your chosen genre.

This group ended up being a group of people who would never see one another socially who sat around a table over overpriced lattes and took turns slagging one another’s passions. I tend to sum it up as “This story is called ‘The Walking Dead’ and I don’t like walking, or the dead, so I don’t see why anyone would read it.”

I disbanded the group in December as Christmas present to myself.

Fortunately, today we have better options. The Web abounds with online writers’ groups and there’s no excuse not to find people who are both familiar enough to get where you’re coming from, but honest enough to tell you when you’ve gone too far up your own backside.

So get out there and find your tribe.



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