Sixteen years ago I found my tribe. I wasn’t looking for one, and it would be a few years before I started calling it a tribe, but back in 2000 I stumbled across a listing (in a print book, how old fashioned!) for Romance Writers of America and started a journey I can’t imagine ending.
I called the Houston office of RWA and got the number of my local chapter’s president. I was so naive. I had no understanding of what to expect. When I placed the call, a man answered. Eek! Man cooties! I hung up the phone without responding to his hello.
I must have misdialed, right? What would a guy be doing answering the phone of a romance writing chapter? (Well, duh, one answer is husband/BF/SO. The other is writer in his own right. I’d learned that as time went on. Did I mention naive?)
I checked the number, wiped my palms down my jeans, and tried again. It rang. The other end of the line (yes, land lines) clicked and a deep voice said, “Don’t hang up.”
I might have squeaked.
Then a new voice came on. Warm, caring, funny. Michelle Monkou told me, “Yup, you’ve reached the right number. I’m the president of Washington Romance Writers. Would you like information about the chapter?”
Hell yes, I would.
I joined. I spent a few years being shy. I started volunteering. I started writing. I made a friend (Marilyn T, I’m looking at you), then another (Beth B, poke, poke). My friend circle widened, my friendships deepened. My knowledge of the craft and industry went (literally) from zero to, well, whatever it is today.
This weekend it is my privilege, honor and joy to gather with a honking big chunk of my tribe – sister and brother authors all along the spectrum from “finishing my first manuscript” to “NYT-best-selling author.” I can’t begin to describe how these people enrich my life, what a misery I’d be without ample and frequent infusions of my tribe.
Do you have a tribe that gets you through?