THE TRIBE

 

A writer’s life is one of self-imposed exile. I venture out judiciously because I must. The good news is that I have a tribe of carefully selected friends—mostly writers and artists who understand the necessity of solitude, take no more than they give, and anchor me to the human race in the best possible way. Meet the Tribe …





DIANA TONNESSEN

Because I have lived long enough to see disaster slam headlong into writers, I am frankly neurotic when it comes to protecting my work. When I have invested a billion hours in a project, I start to think in terms of worst-case scenarios. What if my computer crashes? What if my office explodes? What if I get hit by a truck? What will happen to the project and my client if something happens to me?

Diana Tonnessen

I know. I know. I know …

Neurotic.

From my first book contract and letter of agreement, I have written a sort of little “last will and testament” into the clauses. If something happens to me, I have designated a writer of skill greater than mine to rescue the work, complete the project, and take the balance of the fee. This person has to be uniquely gifted in the art of ghosting: assuming an identity and speaking in voice other than her own; hitting the right style, energy, vocabulary and intellectual level of the “author;” assimilating several tons of research and spinning it into text that sings the right song, and hunkering down in the Zen-like discipline that it takes to write a non-fiction book and put it on an editor’s desk on deadline and in perfect form.

I know of only one writer as facile and skilled as this.
Diana Tonnessen.

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Mary Anna Evans

MARY ANNA EVANS

When I met Mary Anna she was the vice president of an environmental engineering firm that hired me to do a little job for them. When she found out that I was a writer, she asked me to read a short story she had written. “What do you think, Bev?” Bev was stunned. Before I returned it to her, I remember writing on the envelope something like: “I feel about you like Salieri felt about Mozart. I have just enough talent to recognize yours. And this ticks me off big time.” I was frankly confused about why God had gifted this woman with beauty, brains … and huge talent, which she apparently used for writing engineering reports and the occasional short story for her own amusement … while I, arrogant and with an agent, couldn’t hold a candle to her secret ability. I was short sighted. Mary Anna was clearly a woman on the old proverbial “date with destiny,” and before too many years passed, she made the shift from large envelopes filled with secret stories to bookstore shelves filled with award-winning novels.

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JOHN REHG

I have formed my very first friendship begun on line, which is shocking to my friends convinced that my natural aversion to humans can be overcome only by methods closely resembling the reintroduction protocol used on wildlife raised in captivity. Little pellets of food must be involved, and a tranquilizer a dart followed by locking on a big satellite bear-tracking collar, and excited whispers from the blind: “Look, Bev is being approached by another human and she’s not spooking! It’s working, team! Be free, little Bev! Be free!”

O ye of little faith, as I contacted leaders in the Florida Writers Association for help in spreading the word about the Anhinga workshops, I received rapid replies from everyone, including President Dan Griffith and Vice President Chrissy Jackson. They and their people define “graciousness.” In fact, we’re setting up a special space in the Hilton at the workshops for members to gather with their new friends. But I digress …

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