Rebuilding Your Tribe
Like most of the blogsters around here, my writing career has been interrupted. More than once. I enjoy blaming others for my problems and failures. After all, why should I be pressured into all the responsibility of moving my own career forward? Surely there’s a government program for that. Just what am I paying taxes for?
Alas, here I sit, about fifteen years after I first made the statement, “Think I’ll write a book.” I wasn’t sure what I was going to do for the rest of the weekend, but that seemed like a good start.
One of the first things I discovered in my quest which, by the way, took at least two or three weekends, was that I needed friends. Not just any old friends, but friends who shared my new found passion to achieve literary greatness. And I found ’em. I joined in with what Seth Godin would call my “Tribe.” My tribe consisted of five or six immediate writing buddies who would critique my work, encourage me, and tell me when I just suck. I loved them.
I Just Need to Find Myself!
Then came the interruption. I can’t narrow it down to any one thing. I like to blame politics, a lay-off, teenagers, my “napping for Jesus” ministry, but if I were completely honest, I’d have to say I just got lazy. I lost focus. As we get older, we find that we’re pretty mediocre at a lot of things, so we want to get involved in it all. Take my advice, pick the one thing you’re good at and stick with it. You’ll lose less money.
Which brings me back to the tribe. As shocking and unfair as it may seem, you’re tribe will not wait for you to get through your mid-life crisis. They will move forward, leaving you in the jungle to fend for yourself. It is the nature of the tribe, to look out for the greater good of the tribe even if it means the sacrifice of a tribe member. I tripped over the volcano. I got left behind.
I’ll give you a moment to weep over my stupid career moves.
Picking up the Stragglers
Fortunately, new tribes come along. If you don’t see one, make one. Trust me, I have had no trouble finding other pathetic souls who are still at this game when they should be out shopping for sweater-vests and Winnebagos. Okay, I’m not quite that old, but you get the picture.
What is even more encouraging is that your former tribe-members take notice when you regain your footing. They may not have time anymore to tell you how much your latest masterpiece sucks, but they make great cheerleaders. Your new tribe members, however, will be happy to spill red ink all over your babies.
If I were to give one critical piece of advice to those of you recovering from a long interruption, it is this: get back out there and and plaster your name all over every social group and website you ever used to be a part of. To some, you’ll be a newcomer. But you never know when one of the old tribe members, now perhaps a tribal chief, will spot your name and remember that you were once a pretty decent writer. It that doesn’t happen, you’ll at least be building new tribes and new relationships.
So shake off the jungle vines that have wrapped themselves around your ankles and race after your old tribe. Along the way, pick up the other stragglers. Good things will begin to happen again.