for monthly Fierce Monkey Bytes and a free Firestarter Kit.
You’ve bought a new journal every year (or more). You go a little crazy in office supply stores and have boxes of unopened packages of the perfect pens. You even bought a Moleskine because it promised you more than lined paper—it promised you a masterpiece.
There’s nothing wrong with any of that. But being a writer is a way of being in the world every. single. day. It’s a commitment to showing up even when you don’t want to. Especially when you don’t want to.
Being a writer means each day you make meaning; you listen to the voices and silence and you work and wait in equal measure. Newsflash: The writer’s life isn’t what they told you. It’s not non-stop wordplay, Oprah shows or the Left Bank in Paris.
But that’s great, because that means the writer’s life is attainable. This writing life you know you want because you keep rearranging your desk and buying purple pens and notebooks. This life is not for other people who have more of whatever you think they have than you do. This life belongs to everyone who hears the call of Stories.
And that would be you, right?
You keep buying the tools.
You keep starting that novel.
This is the truth: Your writing needs you, and whether you realize it yet or not, you need your writing. Because this isn’t about a different pen or a new computer. This is about doing the work you came to do.
I’m Laraine Herring, and I’m a writer and a teacher, but really, I’m a conjurer and a magician who helps other conjurers rise up and write the stories that will change their lives. I imagined the world of Fierce Monkey Tribe so I can help more of you do just that.
Once upon a time, I was going to be the youngest person to ever publish a novel. I was going to live in a Victorian with an orange cat in San Francisco, and I was going to set the world on fire with just my sentences alone. As you might guess, I did none of these things. At least not in the way I’d thought. In my twenties, my false story about the writing life crashed head on into the reality of the writer’s life and I had no idea what I was supposed to do next.
I had to learn to navigate the gap between the myth of a writer’s life and the reality of a writer’s life. I had to learn to play the long game.
The Stories kept calling to me, so I started over, which basically entailed no longer trying to be brilliant and special and first at everything. I had to re-evaluate my relationship with writing on an equal footing, and I had to get clearer at being myself, rather than my construction of what a writer was. But I had no idea that my natural goofiness, when combined with a little green monkey, would help me shape a new story.
When I was thirty, I quit a 9-5 job in marketing to go to grad school and teach. Super pay cut happened then, but I learned a ton of things that I’d have never figured out by staying in that sage green cubicle, such as:
• Intuition and instinct matter to a writer, but understanding craft and story makes instinct and intuition unstoppable.
• A committed writing practice, even fifteen minutes a few times a week, changes everything.
• Nobody has it easy. We all get in our own way. The ones who create a satisfying writing life figure out how to get out of their own way faster.
• Hard work makes inspiration arrive more frequently.
• Talent is not enough.
I’ll never grasp all that writing can teach me, which is humbling and freeing, because it means I will always be learning and growing. I will always be an explorer in this art.
I’m not thirty anymore. I’ve taught creative writing for over twenty years, working with thousands of students in a variety of settings—from kindergarten through graduate school, in retreat centers like The Omega Institute and the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, as a one-on-one mentor, and through on-line courses and webinars.
Fiction is my passion. I’ve written three novels: Ghost Swamp Blues; Gathering Lights: A Novel of San Francisco, and Into the Garden of Gethsemane, Georgia, and my work has won the Barbara Deming Award for Women and been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.
I also have a full-time job as a college professor. I hold an MFA in Fiction Writing and an MA in Counseling Psychology. I love cats (especially orange ones), Tim Curry as Dr. Frank N. Furter, and musical theater. I fell in love with yoga and completed yoga teacher training. I read Toni Morrison and Carole Maso and felt the language of sentences explode. I read Robert McCammon and Dennis Lehane and understood the power of story and suspense. The ocean waves make me cry, but even glamping is too rustic for my taste. I like libraries, 500 thread count sheets, monkeys, Chagall, road trips, and the Delta Blues. And when I realigned my life so that writing and teaching came first, my whole world cracked open.
Right now, Fierce Monkey Tribe consists of just me and the monkeys, so I’m starting small and sustainable by building programs and classes that evolve as I do, helping writers meet their stories, one word at a time.
I believe that if you hear the call from the Stories, they need you to show up and bring them into the world. And when you do that, your life and the lives of your readers will be transformed.
When you commit to work with me, you can expect to cultivate a deeper and more committed relationship to writing and its role in your life, dive into the magic of craft, surprise yourself with your own inherent gifts, and if you’re lucky, take a dance or two with a green monkey.
And while I can’t place a guarantee on anyone’s destiny, I can promise a reshaped, reframed and revitalized relationship to your writing and the Stories only you can bring to the world.
I made Fierce Monkey Tribe for you. Because your writing needs you. And the world needs what only you can write.
Thank you so much for showing up.