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  • Jo McCready

The importance of finding the right tribe

There’s a freedom involved in finding the right tribe. That’s certainly been my experience with the Auckland Crime Writers.

The Auckland Crime Writers are a group of writers of all types of crime imaginable, from short story to novel length. There is a wide range of publication type in the group too, and writing experience. No matter the shape or stage of our journeys, everyone has a place at the table. It’s this aspect of the group that I enjoy the most.

Like membership of other groups, no matter what they may be, there is a validation involved for the individual as our identities are strengthened by our belonging. It’s a place for advice and to share in the celebrations and the challenges. It’s a place to talk about murder and marketing in the same conversation, where others understand the intricacies involved in the writing and publishing process. I wonder where else I’d be able to so readily get advice on how to kill someone, all the while consuming my favourite treat and surrounded by friends.

Within the group, there are a core of die-hards that can always be relied on to turn up to meetings, or get involved online, and we have people who dip in and out as their needs and lives allow. The concept of the group is very flexible. Over lockdown, we conducted meetings online, which introduced us to so many others in the group that are unable to come along to our monthly meetings.

It’s constantly evolving with our needs and is truly exciting to be part of. Every meeting presents me with something new that both challenges and inspires me. It’s grown into an entity that I could never have hoped for when we started the group in early 2019.

It’s been a long time since my social psychology days when I read about the importance of groups to an individual’s sense of identity, and the many ways in which an individual can become immersed in a form of group identity. We of course, concentrated on the negative aspects of groups – group think, the ‘us’ and ‘them’ mentality, and conformity, for example. But, group membership can also come with some amazing benefits, as I’ve highlighted above.

Forgive me if I sound evangelical on the importance of finding the right group. It’s simply that my own experiences have shown how beneficial it can be. Contrary to the impression I’ve given above, the ACW is not an all-consuming cult. If anything, finding a group of like-minded people, has encouraged me to stand in my own stead as an individual. There is no right way of doing this writing lark, whether we look at publishing method, marketing, or writing within genre. Joining a group of hugely different writers within the broad scope of crime has taught me the strength of my individuality.

Sometimes in the membership of a group, we find our singularity.

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