That fellow’s pointing at me. He’s a marketing guru (I’m sure), and he says that my next job is to make scads of social media friends. I must blog, tweet, speak, call, make myself heard somewhere, by someone. By enough someones that my book will sell. I’m supposed to have a tribe.

As an idea, a tribe sounds welcoming. But if your school years were anything like mine, tribes and posses meant exclusion for those on the outside looking in. Too bad the lonely couldn’t form their own clique, but outsiders are usually outside because they’re either too shy or too introverted, too tall or too fat, or, as I often felt, too bored by the trivia of it all.

Now, being on the outside isn’t always a bad thing. Isolation and loneliness often propel one to creativity.  It forced me into books and art and writing and made me the person I am today.

Who, frankly, would much rather write another story than try to sell anything.

Have I told you about my friend, Ray? Ray worked in another department back when I was editing in the DC area. Evenings, I’d return to my apartment and sculpt big bodies to hang on walls — big, life-sized bodies using friends as models. One night a week, I taught aspiring artists what I’d learned in school and in the doing of my art. When Ray and his family came into my life, I’d just finished a pair —  John and Sue — and moved on to the next sculpture, this time a torso only. Ray showed up at my office door and asked if I’d let him submit my work to a contest to be judged by none other than the sculpture curator of the National Gallery of Art. I shrugged, secretly delighted, especially when the pair won First Place. All because of Ray, who’d invited me into his tribe and done for me what I couldn’t do for myself.

I love people. I like to talk to people and make new friends, but I’m the one who’ll want to get to know you, not just your name or your place in the hierarchy. At the cocktail party, I don’t want to flit. I want conversation.

Here’s the deal. I don’t have a clue how to create a tribe or to beat my chest. But I’d like to know you. And if together we end up in a club together, it won’t be an exclusive one. You hear?


I’m in. How about you? Are you coming with me? I’ll help you up and you can help me?

(Perhaps there’s even a Ray out there for my writing who wants to show me how and pave the way.)

Oh, and, Ray, if you ever read this, I hope that you and your wife and your quiver full of children are doing well out there in Utah. Because you certainly showed this then-agnostic all about the love of God. Be blessed, my brother. Be blessed.

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10 thoughts on “Tribes: Who Needs Them?

  1. Love this, N. You know I’m here – or there – for ya. (Not that that’s saying much, but I am.)

  2. What you’re describing fits my feelings pretty closely. I was told I should start building a platorm several years ago. I decided I’d much rather be writing than platform-building, whatever that entailed. I joined fb and twitter (prefer fb) but really didn’t do much else about connecting with others (this was before I’d heard of Seth’s tribe concept).

    A funny thing happened over the years. I started following a few writing craft blogs, and Writer Unboxed evolved into my favorite. Slowly but surely, I got to know the contributors and the other regular commenters there. Then WU co-founder Therese Walsh formed a fb group page. I joined the day she announced it (the hour, even). I was one of the first ten members. Interacting with the other writers and industry pros there, I came to realize, ‘This is my tribe!’

    I’ve formed other, ‘sub-tribes,’ since (in Boy Scouts we had an overall tribe, and then smaller packs within). I have met some wonderful people, and have come to think of many of them as friends. I feel lucky to have them. But you know what , Normandie? Never once have I asked any of them if they will support my efforts to sell my books in any way. But so many have all stepped up, and supported me in ways I’d never have dreamed of before I was a part of the WU community.

    Sorry for the long comment, but I’m glad you are there now, and I hope you find WU to be as fruitful, enriching, and supportive as I have. I wrote a post about my involvement and feelings about my tribe on the WU blog, if you’re interested (as if you need to hear more from me–but if so, just search my name on the blog 🙂 ). Good luck finding your tribe and your packs! (Nice blog site! Wow, you’re a sailor! How cool is that?)

    1. Vaughn, thanks so much for your note. When my agent first said I had to build a platform, we were cruising the Sea of Cortez. My son hooted: “Facebook? You?”

      Well, obviously, yes. But I’m still not very good at the going after “friends” bit and usually wait for someone to knock on my door. Not always. And not as much since I discovered the WU community.

      I love that you haven’t had to push your work on anyone. I’d much, much rather not. Well, as a matter of fact, I don’t think I could do so with any grace.

      You sound as if you’ve discovered the heart of what social media should be. I will certainly hunt up your post.

  3. Hi Normandie,
    I’ve always thought of us tribe mates.
    Just a thought: social media is how people (mostly) rub elbows these days. I think people who are naturally attractive (like you) don’t have to work at building an audience, or a tribe, or whatever. It just happens. I think the idea is to be available and to put a little of yourself out there. If I’m preaching to the choir, well then, never mind. :). You are awesome! Blessings on the future!!!

    1. Steph, you’re a darling. We’re definitely mates. And you don’t ever have to worry about redundancy. Say what you want to me: that’s what friends do.

      I’m especially pleased that social media has allowed me to retain friendships with folk I haven’t seen in years–such as you! Be blessed.

  4. *waves hello from Facebook and WU*

    I suspect you’ll be pleasantly surprised to discover you’re connecting with fun people and accidentally building a platform. That’s not to say one can’t and shouldn’t proceed thoughtfully, to put oneself in the places where those connections can and will spark, but it’s easier on everybody when it builds organically.

    1. Jan,

      Thank you so much for stopping by. I’ve been away at a conference (Oh, my, if anyone ever gets invited to the Oklahoma Writers Federation Conference, go. Those folk know how to make an editor feel like a queen. I actually had a shepherd bring me Starbucks coffee every morning. And give me a tour of the city. And make sure I had wine to take in to dinner each evening. Waving here at Robin. New friend for life. Absolutely.)

      I appreciate your comments, which echo Vaughn’s. I think you’ve both hit it. Stick out my hand, say, Hey, and invite folk over for tea. Can’t beat that!

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