Finding Your Peeps Out in the World

Finding your tribe, your peeps, your people. Not to restrict this important part of living to just that of writers, everyone needs community. While it’s true I belong to a nuclear family, an extended family, a parish, a neighborhood and a community of other high school student parents, it wasn’t until I left my corporate job and began to reach out to other writers that I realized I didn’t truly have a community of people who spoke my language. It takes all kinds to make a parish, for example, and that’s great. Because all the differences add valuable and differing skillsets and perspectives. But an artist laboring in a cubicle with corporate drones is not just a different piece of cloth in a multi-colored quilt. She is acting out a perverse situation of mismatch, misfit, and misconnection that adversely affects her on every level. The reason I continue to bang on this particular drum is because for most of my  tenure in a corporate office, while I knew I didn’t really belong, I also didn’t see to the extent the attempt to fit in was bad for me. About two months after I left my job I went to a writers’ conference up in the mountains of north Georgia. There I met authors and writers of every stripe. I met geezers with boatloads of ancient trunk material they were self-publishing for their families, I met traditionally published authors who swaggered about accepting accolades for being incredibly lucky to be recognized as “real” writers, I met teens who only had scribbled poems and short stories they published on Facebook. I met writers a lot like me and writers nothing at all like me. And I was blown away by the fact that I felt connected to every single one of them. Even the ones I would’ve edged away from in an elevator or crossed the street to avoid. Even the obnoxious ones. Even the ones who shoved their self-published prose at me to prove within a few seconds that they couldn’t write very well. Even those people, I felt more connected to than the people I’d shared birthday parties and company picnics with for the five years previous. You don’t have to like every member of your family, but that doesn’t keep you from acknowledging (usually) that they are your family. Breaking out into the world of weirdos and writers, artists and losers, the pompous and the generous has lifted me up and filled me with a sense of belonging that I literally never had before.

My peeps. My peers. I love being with them. I love talking to them about writing. I love recognizing the same struggles in them that I have with my own work. They understand me because they understand my passion. They understand my pain.

When I started blogging last year, I read all the advice about not doing a blog for writers because how can that be helpful in marketing your work? I worked so hard not to make this a writing blog but something readers might be drawn to (for obvious reasons). But writing is a passionate interest of mine so, like any other passion, I kept turning to it time and time again. It’s also the thing I’m attracted to in other people’s blogs—their take on writing, their perspective on writing schedules, their writerly worldview. When I realized that, regardless of what the social media experts preach, a writing blog is what fills me up and satisfies the parts that other topics can’t reach, I stopped trying to write for nonwriters. Not to take anything away from my parish or my family but when it comes to writing there is a singular language that only another writer speaks. Just like the expatriate I once was, I have to say sometimes it’s just so nice to relax with your own people.



5 thoughts on “Finding Your Peeps Out in the World

  1. As someone once said “writers are people too” and so are artists, farmers, race care drivers, musicians and fishermen. We all tell stories. There was a time when we gathered around the camp fire, on the front porch, at the dinner table and a hundred other places back then. I’d tag along with my dad down to the hardware store, or the barber, just to hear the stories. I’m an artist more than a writer, worked in and with corporate advertising and publishing people. So know a little about corporate politics and chasing the bottom line, we are people, we were story tellers even before that. Get a group of us together and set us down in front of a fire (a BBQ will do) and we become not so different, more like family, more primitive, more like sprouts and trees from the same root, just poked our heads up in different gardens. And what do we do after we lay down our tools, swords, computers, spreadsheets and shields? We build a fire and tell stories. Because that’s what people do.

  2. Weird though it may seem, I have no close friends in New Zealand who are writers. None. I suspect it’s the miniscule local scene where everybody is looking sideways at everybody else and where other writers are, at best, fair-weather colleagues. I have good friends who are mathematicians – absolutely. Computer programmers – certainly. But not writers.

  3. Maybe not so weird, I’m an old guy, lived a good part of my younger years in southern California not that far from Hollywood and don’t remember any family or friends who were, or knew any writers, of course as I grew up and started earning my living as an illustrator and sometimes writer I began to meet the people who’s stories I illustrated and then there were the copy writers at the ad agencies I worked for, on the job friends, but not friends, friends. this everyone’s a writer and has a book ready to pop out of the oven thing seems to be a somewhat of a new normal, with the possible exception of the family journal.

  4. There aren’t any writers among my friends that I’m physically around, but definitely that I’ve found along the line. That has become a tribe to me. Though I prefer clan.

    Friends are the family we can choose.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s