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Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Finding Your Tribe



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.
Anne & part of her Tribe, Andrea Downing & Kelly Wurth ~All photos by Roni McFadden




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.     


14 comments:

bluejayln said...

I LOVE being part of YOUR Tribe!!!!!! I had a blast this year. Every year teaches me more than the last. And not so much about writing (I only went to two workshops this year), but about the value of friendship and mentoring. I so look forward to enjoying such beautiful companionship for a few days each year I come home so refreshed and my soul is overflowing with love from "my Tribe".
Roni

Anne Schroeder said...

Bluejay--now there's an optimistic handle. Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts.

Carmen Peone said...

Anne, this post hits home for all of us.rin 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. This says it all. I never had a sister, now I have 351.

Carmen Peone said...

Sorry, Erin`s name was cut check off.

Carmen Peone said...

Sorry, Erin`s name was cut check off.

Carmen Peone said...

Anne, this post hits home for all of us.rin 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. This says it all. I never had a sister, now I have 351.

K. Lyn Wurth said...

Lovely, Anne. I've been multiply blessed, finding my place in WWW. An amazing group of women!

judy said...

I admire members who join, then rejoin, then volunteer and contribute, finally writing inspirational pieces to keep the enthusiasm rolling. Beautifully written.

andreadowning.com said...

Anne, you obviously read my mind…every word you wrote voices my own feelings and I couldn't have expressed it all better. Being in New York, away from the west, I am an oddity; even my brother once asked if we were really brought up in the same home! Now I feel I have a family, and one I am ecstatic to be a part of. Do we really have to wait another year to see each other?

Jane Kirkpatrick said...

Super post, Anne. And Toni's photos are exceptional! I love the black nylons with the rope design I think those were worn by Lisa Schmidt. I called her elegant! It could be a catalog cover shot. Or at least an inside shot. Thanks for covering the tribe so well. All year long too.

Carolee Laughton said...

Anne, Oh, did you ever strike a chord with me! I was lying in bed early this morning lamenting that I'd lost my tribe. I missed the last two WWW conferences. I had to withdraw from our 20th because of spouse's emergency foot surgery (although I did manage a couple hours away to see The Cherokee Word for Water and saw one of my good buds). Great job, Page!

I'll cross my fingers for Santa Fe. If the Healing and Writing Gods can lend a hand, I should be celebrating completion of my novel. I've got the dates on my 2016 calendar

Heidiwriter said...

I agree that Anne's post said everything I feel about WWW. And Carmen, 351 sisters--I love that! I always say 90% of the reason I go to the conference every year is all of you! Hang in there, everyone, and we'll be reunited in Santa Fe next year!

Grace Castle said...

Love your post, Anne! As one of the 2015 "Green Dots" I can't find enough great words to describe the WWW conference at Eagle Crest. Everything was wonderful. I've co-chaired state, national and international conferences for other groups, plus attended many others throughout the US and never had so much fun, talked to so many people, or learned so much in such a short time. I love my new "tribe." Is it time for Santa Fe yet?

Terri said...

A beautiful post, Anne. I come from the land down under but I have always adored the American West. Part of me feels as though I belong there. All the WWW's authors, in all their marvellous variety, have a heart for the West just as you described and made someone 'not from around these parts' feel very welcome to the tribe indeed. I do fervently hope I can make it to another conference in the future and spend time with you all again.