If you read last week’s post, ‘An Author’s Friends’, then you know that I don’t always see things the same way other people do. I examine them, and find how they work for me. Friendships aren’t for talking about the weather and passing the time, for me; and family is not about blood. There is a term I ran across a long time ago that I have used freely ever since. I would wager that I found it in a Richard Bach book first, and be happy to give him both gratitude and credit for the term.
It’s one of those phrases that make sense right away, as soon as a couple of words come together. The phrase is ‘intellectual family’, and it has never meant more to me than it does now. These are the folks that have had those thoughts that we find ourselves wondering if anyone else has ever had. In keeping them to ourselves, to protect ourselves, we keep our own intellectual family away. Authors have bridged that gap for me before, as I pointed out a book on someone’s bookshelf and asked what the reader thought of the author’s thoughts.
The reason that phrase has come to mean more to me than ever is because I’m not just a reader any more. Having written a few books, I realized somewhere along the way that writing was my way of finding my own intellectual family. It takes all of the best parts of me to write my books, and it’s pleasantly exhausting like nothing else. It also takes a lot of time, and that’s time not spent on reunions or barbecues or pool parties. Hell, when summer came this year I was so deep into zombies that I never got around to putting up our pool. My partner agreed that it was the best call, but I know she wished it was up when those triple digit temperatures arrived.
It helped to know that reunions were still in progress, even if it was folks who had read my other books and were reading the zombie books now. It also helped to know that the parties my books and newsletter were throwing this year were bringing in new readers. Those are parties that I can host around the clock, and always show up at my best to. They are the kind of parties that bring my real friends and true family closer to me, as they peruse the best of me in those pages.
The friendships I have found since becoming an author often feel like family ties in the most wonderful ways. Other authors are more often than not colorful and considered characters, and I feel right at home communicating with many of them. There’s no weird uncle in the group, or black sheep…that’s what we often were in our old lives, but we’re puzzle pieces that fit together nicely in this delightfully odd picture.
(Editor’s note: Actually, Jay is both the weird uncle and the black sheep, even among authors. They’re just too nice to point it out; please don’t ruin the illusion for him.)
When someone I have been keeping up on in the indie author world is releasing a book, I’m excited to share the news however I can. It’s not my idea, nor are many of the ideas we employ to reach readers and help other authors; but they’re great ideas, the kind of ideas that help everyone when put into practice. And if anyone in the community is ever feeling down, or discouraged, an uprising of support always comes in response to their post or query. It’s like family, without all the sniping behind each other’s backs.
(Editor’s note: Jay is well protected from all the terrible things people say about him behind his back. Please don’t use the email address below to clue him in. He’s very sensitive.)
You might think I have a low opinion of my family, reading this post. I don’t, really. I love some of the people that I’m related to very much, and we would be close even if we didn’t share some DNA. I’m just pointing out that blood is not always the strongest tie. When you’re living in a tribe of a couple hundred people, community and family are important in many ways that are critical to survival. When your network potentially becomes global, the reasons you are reaching out might be different.
How many people have to leave the town they grew up in to really find themselves, or cut ties with a family member to gain some measure of self-esteem? It’s not always a need to be alone that drives thoughtful people inward or outward; sometimes its a need to decide what kind of company they wish to keep. With weirdness finally coming into fashion, those of us with strange stories spinning in our heads need to cast a net that reaches our intellectual family and pull them in close to us.
It’s great to connect with people that have your same last name, or live on the same street, or work at the same day job. These scenarios are not always the best places to share your deepest thoughts, though. For some of us, our deepest thoughts are nothing to be afraid of; but they do need to be aired in the proper forum. In the tribal scenario, your best bet is to write your innermost thoughts in a journal and hope somebody stumbles across it, reads it and loves it. That best bet is still a secret shared between two people, and falls far short of an intellectual family coming together.
Progress has brought many things to us, and two of those things help us weirdos who are happy to share those innermost thoughts in a public forum. One is that people are super busy; no one serious about their happiness has time to pay attention to someone or something they hate. Someone might find me, and hate me right off the bat for whatever reason…but if they keep coming back, that’s on them. I’ll keep posting, and writing books, because I write the kind of books and posts I would love to read. I want everyone else who will love reading them to read them too, so I post and publish them.
Also, I love my family; I can’t wait to meet more of them. What better way to reach out to them than with the best of me?
Thanks for reading!
All the best,