This past weekend, I attended my second consecutive Superstars Writing Seminar. I’m a writer and yet sitting here trying to define what Superstars means to me I’m without words. Forgive me as I ramble and try to share.
Superstars is mentoring. Founded by David Farland, Eric Flint, Brandon Sanderson, Rebecca Moesta, and Kevin J. Anderson the concept of the seminar is very simple. This is not a workshop about craft. This is a workshop about business. By comparison, at least to me, writing is way easier. Understanding the business aspects of writing were things I was sure I knew until the first time I sat through Eric Flint’s contract dissection. At that moment, I knew exactly how much I did not know about this business. Kevin and Rebecca are like family to me. Eric is something like my lovable curmudgeon uncle. David is more than that Writers of the Future judge I just can’t seem to get past – he’s a wealth of information. A few years into the seminar, the founders brought James A. Owen into the mix. What they got in return was a Tribe.
Superstars is special. This year, I had the chance to meet Dean Wesley Smith. Last year, I turned down a publishing contract and let the Tribe know I had and that it was the most difficult thing I’d done as a writer. One of the first to respond was Dean, telling me that what I’d done was the mark of a professional. To have a guest instructor that I respect say that to me was mind blowing. When I introduced myself to him, he almost immediately remembered the story and congratulated me for my novel sale. That’s a special experience.
Superstars is family. I have so many friends in the Tribe. I know that any one of them will help me through anything. They already have. In the hospital last year, I had so many little notes of encouragement from them. Some came to see me. Some prayed with me to survive and recover. I cannot even begin to list them here. I have brothers and sisters. I have the kind of friends who will not let me fail, who believe in me, and who will have my back through darkness and light. I will do the same for any of them who need me. That’s the definition of family – except that Superstars is not a family. We are a Tribe.
Superstars is Tribe. What is Tribe? A community. A mindset. A common set of dreams. A common sense of direction. A common sense of the uncommon. Tribe is the feeling when you walk into a room and everyone smiles at you. There are hugs and some tears. There are friendships that last through the years, across thousands of miles without the briefest hiccup. Time and space yield to the Tribe. The Tribe is everything I’ve ever wanted in a group of similarly minded, driven people. We have stories to tell. We have lives to live. And we’re going to do a damned fine job with both. That’s why we’re Tribe.
I’m already registered for Superstars 2016. I would be crazy not to.
A year ago this week, I came away from Superstars with an exhausted yet exhilarated mind. There were potential projects and a solid foundation of ideas and promises to consider, let gestate, and see what came to mind. I had no idea I was a week away from a life or death situation. As I lay in the hospital, particularly after I’d stabilized and been moved from Intensive Care, one of my Tribe came to visit. He brought me some pens and a notebook. He prayed with me. It was as if my whole Tribe was there in the room. For all I know, they might have been. As we closed down this year’s Seminar, in the final Q&A, I debated saying thank you to my Tribe for about three seconds. I stood up, somehow managed not to break down in tears, and told them how much I appreciated their thoughts and encouragement as I recovered. There were many tears. I was able to publicly thank James A. Owen (pictured above, with me) for his continued positive encouragement throughout my recovery and beyond. I am proud to call him my friend.
There are things I have in front of me that must be done. Exciting things. Life changing things. One of the unique opportunities this year was the chance to have breakfast with James A. Owen. At the end of the breakfast, he asked us to draw a card. On the cards were quotes from his book “Drawing Out The Dragons.” The card we drew was “the card we needed to see at that moment in time.” I have two favorite quotes from the book:
“Always, always, ask for what you want. Because you never know when the universe might surprise you and say yes.”
“If you want to do something there is no one who can stop you, but if you don’t want to do something, there is no one who can help you.”
The previous day, I asked for something I wanted and one of my mentors said “Yes.” After the rush of emotion (and a very funny text message exchange intercepted by our seven year old), I wondered as I drove to breakfast just what all I would have to do and what I’d gotten myself into. The list seemed daunting as hell.
Until I drew a card with Quote #2 on it. At that moment, the worries about this project vanished. I knew what to do, and my mind flashed back to a lucid moment in ICU where I’d known what I had to do there. I made it through and was better for it. This will be no different. There are people who believe in me. People who will not let me fall. They are my Tribe.