Come play inside a writer's brain, scary!

Okay, writing isn’t the only solitary occupation. Train driving is also lonely – but you don’t have to first invent the train.

I’m writing this from the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers’ Centre in Perth, Western Australia, where I’m their Established Writer-in-Residence for four weeks. The centre is the oldest of its kind in Australia and is set in the green hills behind Perth. My cottage is surrounded by bushy garden, a few minutes from the main house.  As this is my first experience as a writer-in-residence, I didn’t expect to feel so completely at home within minutes of getting here.

I shouldn’t be surprised. I was among my ‘tribe’

Anyone who has attended a writing conference will know what I mean. You may never have set eyes on these people before but you feel an instant kinship with them. They “get” what you’re about. If you talk about killing someone, they don’t call the police. They know you mean in your fiction. (At least we hope!)

They don’t look at you sideways when you mention writing 500 words in a day, because they know it’s progress on the day before when you wrote none.

They also understand that writing words is the most important thing in your life after your family. Well maybe equal with.

And that’s okay too.

It’s great to fit in

They don’t feel slighted if you break off in mid-conversation to write something down so you won’t forget it. They’ve been there and done that.

They completely understand why you’re still in your jammies at 4pm

Far from making you a slacker and a slob, it means you had other priorities, most of them to do with writing.

They also understand the meaning of a “good rejection.” No other profession gets so excited when a publisher turns you down, but with encouraging comments about your work.  We know how much that means.

Settling in to this place dedicated to writers and writing was practically instant. I love that my accommodation has a huge desk under a window, with a view all the way to the Perth skyline. That’s inspiration for you. And that it has a proper office chair so I can spend as long as I want writing without killing my back.

The cottage also came with a basket of goodies including Lindt blueberry chocolate, Ferrer Rocher chocolates, fresh dates (are we sensing a theme here?) and wonderful fruit teas.

All they ask in return is that I write and talk about writing

During my stay I’ll complete my own project, give a workshop, read my work at a literary dinner, and talk about books at a breakfast open to the public. Many writing groups meet at the centre and I want to visit as many as I can. I started with a poetry group and loved every minute, even though poetry isn’t my thing. Hey, it’s writing and they’re writers, what more do I need?

Where is your tribe? At a particular place? Perhaps online? How did you find them and what do they mean to you?

To me? Everything.


In residence at

on Twitter @valerieparv

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Comments on: "Finding your tribe, why it’s vital to writers" (10)

  1. I have several tribes. I have a tribe of one at home who totally understands my random plot bursts of ‘what ifs…’ in the middle of…well almost anything! Then there’s my online RWA tribe. And closer to home, my f2f group, who i have just shared a lovely lunch with on a miserable wet day. So I rarely feel alone in my writing pursuits. I’m lucky. But I so get the tribe thing and I love the sound of your writer in residence gig. Ahhhh, one day maybe.

  2. Valerie, it must be wonderful to be in that environment. Enjoy every moment. It’s so true about tribes. I’ve found that moving across Melbourne from the leafy eastern suburbs where I grew up and have lived for years to the inner North which is much edgier. I’ve gone from the land of Oroton sunglasses and blonde streaked bobs to a neighbourhood where red framed glasses and magenta tipped hair just seems so right together. Finding my tribe over here has been an interesting experience. But it has happened.

  3. I have several writing tribes. My RWA friends, both online, and the ones I can see often in person. My local writers group – incidently we released a magazine called ‘Tribe’,Lately I’ve been finding a new tribe – my bellydance sisters. But it’s funny, I mentioned to my bellydance teacher that I’ve booked a trip to Hobart next March specifically for the 10 days on the Island Festival. My focus is art, writing, culture, MONA and maybe the Cadbury’s Factory. Immediately she said ‘you must do a bellydance class with…….” We’re approaching things with different perspectives.

    But I love my tribes, they have been such a source of support and inspiration. (and with the bellydance one, I’m finally losing that ‘unco’ tag)

    Enjoy your 4 weeks in residence….

    • Thanks Diane, fascinating that your writers’ group’s magazine is called Tribe. I think it’s a basic human need to find our kindred spirits and the more “unco” the interest, the more we need people who “get” us. Is there a cat lovers’ tribe in your life, too?

  4. Oooh, VP, I’m jealous! That sounds fabulous. But what you say is so true – writers get writers. And to be in a room full of people who get you is a wonderful feeling. Like Jenn I have a few different tribes, but all of them are so valuable to me because all of them understand how important writing is in my life.

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