Finding Your Tribe

Since I’ve started novel writing again, I not only had to brush off my story-telling skills for a longer format. I also need to figure out how to build my brand, and touched on it briefly in the post “Meet My Buns.”

In the interest of getting myself educated as an authorpreneur, I rejoined Romance Writers of America. At the same time, I also joined the Alliance of Independent Authors. Recently, I watched one of their live videos about finding your ideal reader. Now, this is not the first time I’ve heard the term “Find your tribe”; but when you’re socially challenged, as I’ve become, the first question you ask is, “Where do I start?”

I actually have a rather long list of interests. I may eventually join at least a few tribes, including a Caregiver tribe, when I find one. Caregivers certainly need tribe members who understand the personal sacrifices they often make daily. It will ultimately depend on how many tribes I can reasonably manage and still be productive. Since the name of this blog is “Confessions of a MiddleAged Writer”, I believe I will start there.

Personally, I think its past time to dispel the notion you have no chance of being successful if you don’t achieve your goals while you are still young. (Besides the “young goal post” keeps moving. I’m really 21 again.) Dreams and goals may not be achieved for many different reasons while we’re in our 20s’ or 30s’. Often in our youth, we don’t always have a fully formed picture of who we are, or who we will become. It also doesn’t help when the over-riding message in which we’re indoctrinated says failure is bad. While I wouldn’t recommend doing it constantly, it does have value in the learning experience. The most important is perseverance.

There are some folks who are naturally goal driven and perseverance may come easier to them. It can also be learned with age and experience, provided we’re open to utilizing it. One of my favorite examples of someone who started a very successful mid-life career, is Julia Child. We should never stop learning, growing and challenging ourselves. She loved France and its food. After having a career in the OSS during World War II, she needed a new challenge and took classes at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris during the 1950s. Being a curious person who wanted to know everything possible about a subject, she pushed to join the classes taught to professional chefs; who were primarily men at the time. While in France, she made friends (a tribe) who shared her interest and helped her produce an iconic two-volume cookbook set called “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” Eventually, her tribe grew and helped her produce a series of cooking shows, starting with “The French Chef” on PBS during the 1960s. Naturally, she didn’t stop with French cooking. Over the years she took an interest in a variety of food related subjects, including a show about baking a few years before she died. (I have “Baking with Julia”, co-authored with Dorie Greenspan, on my cookbook shelf.) Nor was she afraid to share the limelight with other experts in her field.

Finding a tribe with similar interests is always beneficial to the human experience. But even more important is finding one who will challenge us to get outside our comfort zone, and support us while taking that risk. Julia was a pioneer in more ways than one. Besides being a woman in a man’s world, cooking shows on TV were almost non-existent (James Beard had one of the first). Now we have whole channels devoted to them.

Time flies ever faster, something I have been becoming increasingly aware of over the years. My mom died at the age of 68, four and half years ago. She was only 22 years older than I am. It made me start asking myself, “What am I waiting for, if I really want to pursue a dream?”

Last December, we were forced to clear out our garage due to a corroded water connection on the washing machine. (A case of procrastination which bit us in the ass.) Guess what I found in one of the boxes? It was a chapter from my original book manuscript which had been mailed to my critique partner. (This was the 1990s. Dial-up internet didn’t do much in the way of attachments.) The darn thing was still in its mailing envelope. I took a glance, said to myself, “I’m never going to do anything with that,” and threw it away with the rest of box’s contents.

A few months later, at the end of April, I was cleaning rabbit cages. I do all kinds of interesting thinking while taking care of my rabbits. Suddenly, the thought came to me, “Why shouldn’t I finally finish that book? Afterall, I spent close to ten years on it.” For the first time in my life, I now have a full manuscript which is probably about as polished as it’s going to get. Is it the same book I started 30 years ago? Ha, ha, ha, ha… NO. What made the difference this time? Some of it is age and experience. Being curious about a variety of topics helped too. It gave me a lot more material to utilize. Most importantly, motivation and perseverance made the biggest difference. They will continue to make a difference in eventually putting it in readers’ hands.

It doesn’t matter to me if your dream is writing, or something else entirely. I would be happy to nudge you into at least trying it. Dreams only have value when we attempt to make them reality. Another blog I follow, recently had a post about living in the moment, reminding your life is today. Not yesterday, tomorrow or somewhere else. Regardless of anyone’s age, I can’t think of a better tribe to belong to, than one that pushes us to achieve things we thought beyond our reach.

Quote of the Week

The possible can be done immediately. The impossible takes a bit more time.

My husband’s favorite quote from the US Navy Seabees – Kristal DeJong

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