by Anne Schroeder
The thought occurred to me while I gave my farewell speech as President of WWW—a speaker’s podium is a great spot for discovering your place in the world. I heard people laugh at the right places and it felt really good. But what I noticed about my talk was the way the phrase “I had found my tribe” resonated with those of you listening. I could tell by the smiles and nods that we have all found our tribe in this group of talented, spirited women and men.
There were a lot of times when the tribe notion occurred—and most were not what I expected them to be. Wendy Claus knocked me out with her humorous excerpt from her LAURA winning short story. She made me remember how good it feels to laugh. Erin Turner knitted a sock while we talked books and I appreciated how it felt to be included. Sleepy writers pushed purses aside at crowded breakfast tables at 7:00 AM and I felt like a member of the “in-crowd.” Roni McFadden took my photo and I felt valued.
|David J. Langum, Sr., Patricia Ackerman and Ann Parker|
I love how we buy books from each other and wait to have them signed. I love how everyone groans over the fabulous chocolate cake and then only eats half. I love that every year when I return to the WWW Conference I feel less like a stranger and more like a sister returning to a family reunion.
I love that some of us show up in jeans and boots fresh from the corral and others show up in high heels and skinny skirts. A room full of pilots or firefighters or yoga practitioners will usually look like what they are, but a room full of writers can look like, well, like us—unidentifiable, and filled with hope and creative energy. I attended a national RWA Conference in San Jose, CA in the early 90s and expected to see dazzling sex sirens dressed in slinky evening gowns. Instead, I saw more than a few overweight housewives with plain hair and no makeup inquiring about the next new romance trend. Some came to breakfast in their pajamas and nobody laughed. I loved that about them—sex-crazed women fascinated by ideas and words. Just like us.
So what makes WWW my tribe? I think it’s the way we all struggle for recognition for our regional books and novels. We share a fierce and undying love of the American West and this bonds us the same way it bonds teens at Comic-Con. At the WWW Conference I find writers who “get” me and whom I “get” without even knowing their name. Safety among friends; we get it that it doesn’t hurt to say “yes” when an opportunity shows itself. Nobody will laugh—unless it’s at the hilarious short story someone reads from the podium or the chocolate cake we stick in our pajama pockets to take back to our room.
Until next year, my friends.