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You paint a picture, create a sculpture, write a poem or a book. Folk say they love this or that. A few say they don’t like anything you’ve done. Well, you try for a thank-you to them anyway, because that’s what you’ve been taught to do. Smile. Be polite.
And then someone writes a review of your newest and shows that she gets it. She gets the purpose and the heart of your story, although she doesn’t normally read in your genre–or in this case, genres.
Yesterday, that happened when a reader wrote these words about Sailing out of Darkness. I don’t care that she only gave it four stars while she gave my first (Becalmed) five. You’ll see what I mean when you read her words, these from Goodreads:
Normandie Fischer’s latest, Sailing Out of Darkness, includes some of my favorite things: sailing, travel, mystery, and even a bit of fantasy thrown in. Fischer’s latest novel seamlessly melds multiple genres–romance, Christian fiction, women’s lit, and literary–without settling entirely within any one. Don’t think that’s a criticism. For me, I found the balance just right: the romance never gets sappy, the thread of faith/Christian fiction runs through subtly, never pounding the reader over the head with it as so much of that genre does, the mystery and conflict over Samantha’s past coming back to haunt her kept me on edge without becoming melodramatic, and her literal and figurative voyage of self-discovery moves at an engaging pace that never falls over the line from relatable introspection to banal self-absorption. Sam, Teo, and all of the characters’ personalities come through clearly and their interactions and dialogue flow smoothly. Fischer is a master at transporting the reader into the scene. The beauty and foreignness of exploring new places is captured pitch perfect in Sam’s ponderings as she makes her way through Italy. I could picture the Italian countryside, feel the rhythm of the boat on the Mediterranean Sea, and my heart ached and pulse raced when Sam confronted…well, read it to see what and how she overcomes the ordeals she faces.
You’ve heard it, perhaps in the squeak of your own voice. The fear, the worry, the I-don’t-know-what-I’m-doing so why should I bother? Haven’t you wondered if anyone out there even cares?
You have. So have I.
It wasn’t all that long ago that I wrote a post where I questioned the how-tos of tribe building, of finding like-minded folk out in blog-sphere, on Facebook or Twitter.
But in the intervening months, you know what I’ve discovered? Tribes. Plural. More than one real, honest-to-goodness groups of online friends who matter. Whose words I like to read. Who teach me and comfort me and let me into their life.
Some of these new friends write in my genre. Over at Amy Nathan’s blog, Women’s Fiction Writers, I’ve learned of new writers whose books I want to read. Women’s Fiction Writers Association is becoming a reality. Right now we have a Yahoo group where we learn and grow together. The founders are working to get the association off the ground to offer more and varied opportunities for writers and for readers. A Tribe.
Other groups simply support writers. All writers. My favorite is the penulitmate tribe builder, Writer Unboxed. Its Facebook Group (over 3000 members now) offers a safe place for writers in all genres, of any sort, at any level of competence or success to support one another. A Tribe.
I’ve made new friends on LinkedIn, and in some of the Goodreads groups. More folk in the Tribe.
Girlfriends Book Club is another wonderful tribe builder. I’ve recently discovered Southern Writers Magazine. You know I’m likely to fit there. They’ve asked me to write a blog post, so I’m trying to put that together. More tribe members. These are only a sampling of the places I’ve discovered. I’ve sailing tribes and publishing tribes and prayer tribes and tribes of old-friends from long ago whose worlds I’d lose if it weren’t for Facebook and email.
Do you remember how small the world once seemed? We knew only those in our circle. Yes, we could enlarge the circle by moving, by changing circumstances. But we couldn’t connect with people in California on the same day we connected with someone in Italy or Japan. (Unless we were ham radio operators.)
I can’t tell you how many lovely people I’ve met. People who laugh with me and who hold my hand. People whose hands I hold and for whom I do a happy dance when there’s good news. As they do for me.
I live in rural America, and I have friends in Italy and Australia, Wales and South Africa. My son tells me these online friends aren’t real. But you know what? They feel real. And when I travel and meet some of them face-to-face, that’s about as real as it can get.
So, those of you who are still stuck in the I-can’t mud hole or on the what’s-the-purpose cliff, I want to suggest that there are a lot of folk just waiting for what you have to offer. People who want to hear your words, know your thoughts. Who want to meet YOU.
Come connect with me. I’d love to welcome you into one of the tribes I frequent. What makes any group strong is its membership. Its people.
Will you let me know some of the ways you’ve connected with folk online? Has it helped you at all? Do you feel less lonely or more so in the midst of this Internet noise?