Once I was part of a vast tribe. An endless nation of geeks and nerds, each armed with their fandom. Star Wars, Harry Potter or Rifts. We’d gather every weekend to play the latest RPG, or draft the newest box of Magic the Gathering. Every few months we’d congregate at Dundracon or ComicCon.
It was part of my identity and it represented everything I had grown up to appreciate. Yet as the years passed, as careers changed and bills accumulated it somehow slipped away. I woke up one day and my tribe was gone.
I searched everywhere for them. Except where they were. Where they’d always been. I didn’t realize that it wasn’t my tribe that had disappeared. I’d just gotten lost. Separated from the herd.
I’d somehow wandered into the mainstream, hiking Half Dome and learning to write. I started missing the opening days of tribal movies like The Avengers. I shed fandoms, winnowing it down to the greats. Then the unthinkable happened. I stopped gaming. My last pen and paper RPG was over three years ago. Jesus that hurts to say.
My excuses were excellent. The iPad had come out and I spent every waking minute learning to code. Then I took up a career doing exactly that, working six to seven days a week at aggressive startups.
I moved forty miles closer to San Francisco, putting the few tribal members I was in contact with juuust out of reach. Sure, I always meant to make it back to Santa Rosa but I’d blink and six more months had blown by.
My tribe’s absence was difficult. I coped by writing. I wrote every day, turning out hundreds of thousands of words. I wrote about things my tribe would love. About things any Werewolf the Apocalypse fan would resonate with, that people who loved Buffy the Vampire slayer would get into.
One day I looked up and realized I’d written a decent book. My girlfriend liked it. So did all the beta readers. So I took the plunge and published it. Much to my continued surprised the book has started to sell, which is great.
But after publishing and selling my first couple hundred copies I didn’t feel much like celebrating. It took a few weeks of chewing on the problem to finally figure out why. I didn’t want to celebrate, because celebrating was all about sharing what I’d created with my tribe. I couldn’t do that, not beyond immediate friends and family.
I wanted to geek out with people on forums, just like I had about WoW or Anime. I knew some of them would love it, and just like any good geek it was my responsibility to share the fandom. Not to stand on a marketing rooftop alongside every other new artist yelling, read my book, it’s awesome. To share it like a fan. Tell them why they’d enjoy my take on werewolves in the same way I nagged my best friend to check out Dragon Age: Origins (He loves it- you will too. Go check it out).
Fortunately we live in the age of the internet. My tribe isn’t just easy to find, they’re everywhere. A vocal pageant of proud geeks who love lightsabers and wish a blue police box would appear in their backyard. Who talk about H.P. Lovecraft and love BSG.
I just need to sit down at their campfire and introduce myself. It’s time to rejoin my tribe.