RESILIENCE Finding your tribe

Welcome to Kate Mallinder's series for Words & Pictures on RESILIENCE! 
This week it's all about finding your tribe.

In each resilience piece so far, I’ve talked about the importance of people who support your journey and, in particular, people who are also creators. Find yourself a merry band of writers or illustrators heading the same way and you’ve got people to help with your backpack, who have a supply of blister cream and hopefully have a map.

When I started writing I kept it a secret. I needed to test it out to see if it was something I’d like to do. It quickly became obvious that I loved it. I daydreamed stories, I got my laptop out during the toddler’s (much too short) nap times and even worked through the soporific tones of In the Night Garden. I googled a lot. I researched agents and word counts and waiting times. I was desperate to learn more but the thing I was lacking and aware that I needed, was feedback. I was tinkering with punctuation and sentence structures, but I wasn’t doing any of these really big edits everyone was talking about. I knew I could pay for professional edits, but this was still a hobby in everyone’s eyes including my own and I couldn’t justify the expense.

 I joined SCBWI. Having regular critiquing - from people who were interested in the same types of stories I was - was the best thing ever. After a solitary writing existence, suddenly I had people who ‘got it’ – who understood the pain of an untold story, the problems of getting it to feel like you imagined it and who were able to gently point out what wasn’t working and celebrate the bits that did. My editing skills grew rapidly, both by being critiqued and by critiquing others.

But I even got more than I realised. I started to find my tribe. It wasn’t just the practical skills I was learning, it was having people who understood, who empathised and who made it an easier journey.

This doesn’t mean to say you’re going to click with everyone. But some, a handful, will become friends who will be the ones you share every step with, both of your own journey and theirs. People who understand the quirks and idiosyncrasies of the publishing industry are invaluable; they truly get the toughness of waiting and rejection and dashed hopes and getting up again.

However, you can also find people in a whole host of other places. Just like you shouldn’t only read the genre or age group you’re writing, don’t just limit yourself to other children’s writers. I’m a member of a local writers' group and they are fantastically helpful and supportive, despite me being the only children’s writer there.

Among my wider friendship groups, people tend to fall into two categories. Those who are uninterested and those who are fascinated by what I’m doing. They’re all my friends, but only some of them enrich my writing journey. One of my daily sources of support comes from outside the school gate – from both parents and teachers alike - telling me to keep going, to keep following that dream, to get the words written, to aim higher, to do things that I would naturally shy away from. And in turn, I encourage them with their dreams. We may not be aiming for the same thing, and they may not know how the publishing process works but we’re cheering each other on and that can feel hugely empowering.

My point is this: ‘your tribe’ might not necessarily be one group of people. It might actually be a patchwork of people, from all the facets of your life. You might find them in the big crowds of a conference, or the small critique group, the wider online writing community or a small group of local writers in a church hall. All these people are your tribe, all cheering you on, as you cheer them on.

Picture: Anne Boyere

Here are a few things to remember:

• Encouragement for your creative work can come from anywhere – a friend, a relative or someone you don’t know very well yet in the writing community. Creators and non-creators can both be encouragers.

• Not all encouragement is equal. We’ve all got friends who aren’t that great when things get tough. That’s okay. Only share the really important stuff with those who can deal with it.

• Be aware that some people can’t keep secrets. It’s also worth remembering that anything online can be shared, even if it starts off in a closed group. Have a close circle of friends who have proved their trustworthiness.

• Be trustworthy. Be encouraging. Be understanding.

• You learn from your tribe – they have experiences and knowledge that can only be given quietly – information about the industry, tips on query letters and extra eyes to spot opportunities and share them.

• They make the bad times feel less bad.

• They make the good times feel even better.

 Good luck finding your tribe – your own patchwork of people.

Header image: Freepik/makyzz
Edited by Hannah Fletcher  

Kate Mallinder is author of the very nearly out Summer of No Regrets and who is grateful for her patchwork tribe. If you want to read more writing advice from Kate you can visit her blog or website. You can also follow Kate on Twitter or Instagram.

No comments:

We love comments and really appreciate the time it takes to leave one.
Interesting and pithy reactions to a post are brilliant but we also LOVE it when people just say they've read and enjoyed.
We've made it easy to comment by losing the 'are you human?' test, which means we get a lot of spam. Fortunately, Blogger recognises these, so most, if not all, anonymous comments are deleted without reading.

Words & Pictures is the Online Magazine of SCBWI British Isles. Powered by Blogger.