Writing in a tribe

Aug 12th, 2014 | By | Category: Articles

By Nimue Brown

jhp5322da8f27f31No book happens in isolation. All authors are shaped by their backgrounds, communities, friends, peers, by who they read and how they were taught. I think this is especially true in modern Paganism, where our relationships with peers and teachers can really define us. Support from established authors gives new writers a real head start. Beyond that, we are all experimenting with and exploring what it means to live as a Pagan in these strange times. Where ideas flow between authors, you get real growth, and exchange, a broadening of perspective and a deepening of ideas.

It’s not just about interacting with other authors. Many leaders in the Pagan community do not do much writing – they’re busy organising stuff. Many innovators are not authors, and not necessarily in a leadership role. These are the people who show up to the ritual and ask ‘can we try this thing?’ and they are vital to the life of Paganism. You can’t have a living tradition if no one innovates.

One of the (many) things I love about Moon Books is our capacity to function as a tribe. At the authoring end, we share each other’s books. I will usually have read whatever Cat Treadwell and Jo Van der Hoeven are working on long before it comes out. Graeme Talboys reliably reads my stuff, and I am always glad of his support and insight. Anything Robin Herne does I pounce on to read and review as soon as I can. There are naturally forming clusters of authors around path and practice, but we all reach across those lines regularly as well.

The Moon Books community makes copies of new writing available to reviewers who are not also authors. There’s space on facebook for feedback and interaction. Responses flow from readers to authors. For those of us involved, it gives us more idea of how to speak for our tribe, and a keen sense of the responsibility that places upon us. If we write well, we write for more than just ourselves. If we write badly, inaccurately, misleadingly… our whole tribe might suffer. It ceases to be quite so much about one author’s ego, and becomes an ongoing collaboration in what it means to be Pagan, and how we express that to each other.

The standard image of the author is of the figure alone, hunched over a desk, probably surrounded by books, but mostly locked into a private world full of personal concerns, ambitions and vision. Compare that with the image ‘storyteller’ evokes – the person stood before a gathering, telling a tale for those people, telling it to them and also with them. Perhaps listening to comments and stories that flow back to add to the next telling. We are more grounded, more relevant and more involved when we set out to be storytellers for our tribe, not author-authorities, but the tribe has to be present and available for that to happen. I like what happens when that works.

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