• Inspiration

    The Perfect Way for Me to Celebrate Galentine’s Day

    Galentines Day, The Perfect Way for Me to Celebrate Galentine's Day, Karen Hugg, https://karenhugg.com/2020/02/13/galentines-day/ #GalentinesDay #LeslieKnope #WaverlyFitzgerald #books #writing #Seattle #literary #memorial #friendship #inspiration

    I have watched every episode of the show Parks and Recreation, many of them twice. And yet I never remembered Leslie Knope talking about Galentine’s Day. What is Galentine’s Day? Well, as Leslie says, it’s ladies celebrating ladies. A day, right before Valentine’s Day, when you recognize those special female friends, or “gals,” in your life. The friends who have supported you through thick and thin.

    Coincidentally, I’m seeing a friend tonight. A friend I admire and a friend who is dear. A friend who has helped me along my writer’s journey and even helped me venture out into related ventures. We’re meeting up for drinks before attending a celebration of a local Seattle writer who, sadly, passed away this last December.

    Seattle Author and Teacher Waverly Fitzgerald

    Waverly Fitzgerald wrote historical fiction, mysteries, nonfiction, and more. She was a pillar in the Seattle literary community, having taught at Hugo House, the Hedgebrook retreat, and various conferences. Though I didn’t know her, I’d attended Sisters in Crime meetings, a writer’s organization she volunteered for. I always admired that she wrote about nature and was an advocate for the environment. Especially urban ones. But in December, she unfortunately died at the too-early age of 68 from illness. A huge loss to the Seattle writing community.

    So when my friend asked if I wanted to meet up before attending a celebration of her life, I eagerly said yes. That the date coincides with Galentine’s Day makes it even better. Though the giving spirit of Waverly Fitzgerald is gone, I think she’d approve of two friends celebrating Galentine’s Day by attending a book reading in her honor.

  • Writing

    The Importance of Writer Tribes in a Creative’s Life

    Woman Writing, The Importance of Writer Tribes in a Creative's Life, Karen Hugg, https://karenhugg.com/2019/06/03/writer-tribes/ #writing #writers #writerslife #writertribes #writinggroups #solitarylife #craft #books #fiction

    I’ve been thinking a lot about tribes and how important they are in a writer’s life. Writers are often solitary beings so joining a group, any kind of group, can be stressful and intimidating. We writers write because writing is easier than interacting. Not for everyone, I know, but it’s certainly the case for me.

    So while I’m a writer who enjoys being alone, I also yearn to connect with people. Not often, probably far less than others, but I do have that yearning. I realized this when I first took up fiction writing as an adult about 12 years ago. I’d left my job as an editor and while I knew other nonfiction writers and editors, I lacked a creative writer tribe. So I applied to an MFA program.

    The Goddard College Group

    I chose Goddard because it was a program that focused on quality work but didn’t discriminate against writers who wrote plot. My interest was not only in the literary, the strong sentence and profound insight, but in the thrill and ride of suspenseful events. And so, I attended Goddard’s low-residency program for two years. I ended up getting what I’d wanted from that experience. I stretched my mind and skills as a crafts person and I found a community. I mean, a really great community. I met writers who were as serious as I was and we went through the growth trenches together.

    It’s not surprising to say I felt untethered after graduating. All of the students scattered back to their respective cities from across the country and I was left with a small core group of Seattleites that eventually dissipated. I still have a couple of local friends but mostly my Goddard tribe is spread far and wide.

    What Social Media Offers

    Enter the internet. So, when I wasn’t raising my kids and spending time with my family (how did I, a loner, end up with three kids again?), I joined groups on Facebook and made friends on Twitter. I found a core group of online gardener pals who I was able to share my passion for plants with, and I joined writer tribes. I joined a group called Women Writers who were supportive and caring. Later, I joined Sisters in Crime (even though I was unsure I belonged there), and a writing moms group called Writer Moms. I added the Women’s Fiction Writer’s Association too.

    These groups have given me so much support. I’m able to ask for specific advice and have received useful help and experienced wisdom. I’ve found free information about building an online presence, book marketing, how to publish, how to write, and other tips I didn’t know I needed. I also got integral support in balancing my mom life with my writing life. I’ve found online friends who’ve been generous with their time and knowledge. It’s been a productive and amazing experience. In return, I’ve tried to offer my own support and advice.

    Twitter in particular has been fruitful for me. In addition to making friends, I’ve received a few professional opportunities. I also found my author coach. And I made one very important connection.

    Stumbling Upon Publishing

    I found the Writer Moms group via their usual Monday night Twitter chats. I started participating in these chats and checked in a couple times a week on the Facebook group. I got an incredible amount of support as a mom and a writer here. During these months, I stumbled upon quality articles and excellent feedback. I even learned about a couple of small presses I didn’t know existed. I had been querying for a few years and submitted my manuscript to the two small presses. Within months, I had a book contract. It was unexpected and wonderful. All because I’d joined and participated in this particular online writers tribe.

    So today online, when a writer friend threw out the question of whether online social media was a waste of time, I didn’t hesitate to answer. And after reading this, you probably know what my opinion was. I think it is worth joining writer tribes, you never know what might happen, who might notice you, who you might notice, and how you might connect. I don’t think writers should expect to make instant friends and have instant success. The network of fellow creatives I’ve built has taken me years to foster, and even now I’m still, arguably, a nobody! But at least I’m a nobody with a huge supportive tribe, headed toward a brighter horizon in my career.

    Photo by Lonely Planet on Unsplash