I belong to a terrific critique group here in Georgia, all. I am a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, and through that organization I have writing friends all over the country. (If there is one thing we need in this solitary life we've chosen, it's friends who also write!) Yet none of these wonderful people have become part of my family, and I, theirs. Within the Hive, we know the status of each other's manuscripts. We share our collective knowledge of editors, agents, publishers, and other writers. We have seen each other through the death of spouses and parents, pregnancy and illness. Together we have shepherded our children from "the terrible twos" to the troublesome teens to college and marriage and another generation.
At first meeting, we were as diverse a group as you could find, aged twenty-something to seventy-something, with most of us somewhere smack in the middle. We came from all over the country, and just for something completely different, Thailand (that was me). In fact, had I not had my fellow "Bees" as close as my computer screen, I never would have survived my year and a half on the other side of the world. I remember the Thanksgiving my husband was on assignment in China, and the Bees kept emailing me to keep me from being too homesick, alone in my Bangkok high rise with a four-year-old.
When we came to Vermont College, differences in age, geography and previous publishing experience were forgotten. What mattered is that we had the same desire…to become the best possible writer we could. So intense were we, hanging on our instructors' every word, that our class loomed large on the faculty radar. We believe it was one of those instructors, Brock Cole, who inadvertently dubbed as "bees" because we fairly buzzed with questions and enthusiasm. So, if individually we were Bees, together we were "The Hive."
Not everyone in our class wished to maintain contact after graduation. Some members of the considerably smaller Winter '00 class wanted to be part of the Hive. We were honored that someone wanted to cast their lot with our busy bunch. It is hard to remember now when those two members were one of our number.
When I tell other writers about The Hive, they always ask how often we hear from each other. They are amazed that the answer is "couple of times a day." On the rare occasions that The Hive falls silent, someone (usually JoAnn) will send out an email on the order of "Where is everybody?" If one of us doesn't log in for a period of time, someone is sure to email (or even call) to make sure all is well.
Because we are scattered across the country, we have never physically all been together in the same place, not even at graduation. (The two "Bee adoptees" graduated before us.) We have managed to get a good number of them together in one place for various reunions, but never all of us. Still, we see each other more than most families do. If one of us is speaking in a Bee's hometown, you can be sure that any Bee within a fifty mile radius will be there too.
So...for all the manuscripts you've critiqued, rejection letters you've suffered through, rants about editors endured and professional connections made, my heartfelt ThankU goes out to the two Gretchens, the two Carolyns, Maribeth, Laura, Phyllis, April and Lindan. A special ThankU to Carmela, Jeanne Marie and JoAnn, my fellow TA's and Hive members. And through the TA connection, I have become friends with Esther and April.
The Hive is the source that keeps on giving!
Don't forget to send your ThankU's to us. See Esther's last Wednesday post for details.