My Tribe: How Online Networking Helped Me Find My People


A misfit among misfits is how I’ve felt for most of my life.  Growing up, I never really fit in anywhere.  Sure I had friends, but I didn’t fit in with preppy kids because I was too poor.  I didn’t fit in with the stoner kids, because I just didn’t look like them much less partake of what earned them their moniker. I didn’t fit in with the nerds or punkers, either.  As a teenager, I was big into the hippie culture of the late ’60’s, long before there were hipsters or whatever the hell they call themselves today.  I walked around with peace signs on my jeans jacket, hair in a long braid down past my butt. My musical tastes ran a spectrum most kids scoffed at.  I stuck out a little bit more than your average misfit.

Once I went to college I found a few more misfits like me, but still they weren’t my tribe.  I wasn’t into the drugs, sleeping around and partying that many of them were.  I had a job to do, get through school, so I could start earning a living wage and get on with my life.

Eventually I married and had kids and changed careers.  I wanted to write.  I had wanted to be a writer since I was in high school, but I, and others around me, brushed it off as not being a viable selection as far as careers were concerned.  It took me until well into my thirties to realize that that was a bunch of B.S.

I dipped my toe into the writing pool around age 36 and got a few things published. However, ever the pessimist that I am, I backed off on my goals, believing that it was a fluke.  I wanted to bask in that success and not have it ruined by a bazillion rejections.  Not a bright move, in hindsight.

Thankfully, through the wonder of blogging and writing, I found a writer much like me and she encouraged me to keep going.  While I had no end of encouragement at home from my Sweet Babboo and my friends, this encouragement was different.  This came from someone who understood the torture that is writing, the push and pull of banging around in your own head for hours a day putting words to paper.

Then she formed a secret group of writers who could get together and share ideas, ask questions and just be themselves.  In that group I’ve found a sort of Shangri-La. In the few months that I’ve been there, I’ve learned more about the writing business, blogging and freelancing than I have in the past 5 years all by myself.  I’ve found a group of people who share the same neuroses as me, who are haunted by the same writerly fears as me, and who get that sometimes we need a swift kick in the pants as motivation to keep going.

And they are unbelievably kind, giving, open people.  They have banded together virtually and in person by attending a conference together.  Then we found out that my friend’s secret group isn’t all that secret.  There are people desperate to join the fun.  My friend, whether intentionally or not, created a small writer’s community filled with some of the most amazing talent the internet has to offer today.  And I cannot tell you how much I am amazed.

All of this started because a lady in Maine reached out to me one day to say she liked my writing.  That’s it.  A stranger took the leap and contacted me. From there I found my tribe because she grabbed me by my virtual sleeve and dragged me along with her.  And I’m so glad she did.

Even though I am truly a fledgling writer when it comes to freelance work, I don’t feel as if I don’t belong.  I am writing and sending out submissions daily. There are nearly 140 people in the blogosphere who know my name and come to my rescue at the slightest mention of needing help.  It’s a marvelous little world and it speaks to the power of networking.  It speaks to the generosity of our species.

Never have I been more proud to be called writer.

What about you?  Have you found your tribe? If so, how?  Leave your story in the comments.

Open Mic Night: The part of being a writer that terrifies me

Our local library

Our local library

Let’s face it.  We all have preconceived notions.  Most people, I’m willing to bet, think that writing is a pretty easy gig.  You just sit in a chair, make things up for a few hours a day, and, if you’re any good, you get published and become famous, raking in cash like Stephen King.  You probably think writers have “people” who do the mundane things like marketing and setting up speaking events. You would also be unbelievably wrong.  We, the writers do all of it.  Unless we can afford publicists, only our own sweat equity goes into making the publication ball roll and keep rolling.  Even with a publicist, an editor and a publisher, writers are expected to put in their fair share.

Tuesday night I attended my second speaking event as a writer.  The first one went well and I didn’t feel like I did terrible, but definitely felt like I had some room for improvement.  I was one of seven authors there to hock my book. I took what I learned from that event and applied it to Tuesday. My second speaking event, Open Mic Night at our local library, featured the members of my writers’ group as well as one brave soul who came to share.  I was first out of the gate because our leader thought my writing was the most relatable to the audience (I write mostly essays about being a mom or how I have a tendency to screw up even the most mundane of tasks) and would make a good opener. Silly man.

I prepped for the event in all the usual ways: reading out loud until I was hoarse, timing myself to get the pacing right and so I didn’t sound like Seabiscuit on his way to a photo finish. I also took my prescribed, extra anxiety meds. Without those, I’d be in the bathroom and nowhere near a podium.

Almost stone....

Almost stone….

Nothing prepares me for those terrifying moments in front of a room full of people expecting me to be awesome. There’s no way to set that bar a little lower. As I stood there, racing through my essay, I heard my voice begin to quiver. My throat began to run dry. The worst of all were my muscles. I could feel them systematically tightening up, threatening to turn me to stone. All I could envision was falling over, right where I stood. I hated it. All that prep for nothing.

When I was done I raced to my seat and snatched up my husband’s hand. He kissed me and reassured me, but I still felt like a rabbit facing down a cat. What was I thinking? I can’t do this.

Then I listened to all my writers’ group members. And I realized something. I am surrounded by crazy talented people. They all did so very well, causing goosebumps to form on my arms, bringing audience members to tears. I heard a few gasp.  All I could think was, “What the hell am I doing? I do not belong among these people.”

I know that you’ll say that I shouldn’t be comparing myself, but you know what?  Everyone does.  But the simply fact remains for me that I do not feel like I’ve earned my place at the table.  I went to my truck afterward and burst out crying because I felt like a fraud.

Jim told me one thing that bolsters me, but just barely.

He said, “Miranda, the worst writers are the ones who are convinced of their talent.”

I don’t know if he’s right.  I don’t know if I have what it takes to do anything more than entertain my family with my writing.

What I do know is that I want to do more.  I want to be more.  I’ve got the gumption.

Do I have the talent?the worst writers are the ones who are

So what say you?  Ever have that crisis of conscience?  Ever doubt what everyone else says is true?  How do you lift yourself above those moments and keep on keeping on?