Writers Helping Writers

B-UQ3E6CEAAPVlUI’m kind of blue today. For the past few days, my bestie and crit partner Carolyn Crane has been visiting. We got up in the mornings and did “parallel play” – working our social media and indulging in dishing about it, in a way we never get to do otherwise. Then we wrote, sometimes silently, sometimes discussing. On the best weather day we went hiking around noon. Regardless of weather we headed into town around midday and indulged in long, delicious, boozy lunches. We used the opportunity to give each other live discussion feedback on our latest works – so much better than on the phone or via social media. And we talked about writing careers in general – both our own and people we know.

This morning I dropped her off at the airport and my world feels emptier for it.

We talk a lot about writing being a solitary profession, which it certainly can be. Worse, however, the various writing communities can be, well, less than fully supportive. There’s a lot of professional jealousy out there. Carolyn and I both started our writing careers in the literary fiction world and that’s one of the worst. One of those cases where the fights are so fierce because the stakes are so small. There is very little friendship in those particular trenches, with plenty of tail-sniffing, jockeying for position and plain mean behavior. The egos run huge and the competition intense.

Neither of us miss it a bit.

The romance community is SO unbelievably better that way! With a very few exceptions, the egos remain manageable in romance. Maybe that comes from writing a much-sneered at genre or maybe from it being such a predominantly female community. Or from the original friendly and supportive mindset of the organization’s founders. Regardless, I love my sister romance writers and greatly appreciate having that network. Still, even in my few years spent in this group (six – since 2008), closer friendships have come and gone. I mourn some of the ones that have fallen by the wayside, but the ones I’ve gained more than make up for the few losses.

I’ve long observed that friendships tend to develop among the people who are doing the same things we are. You know – in college we have our college friends, and among those the theater friends or the peer counseling people. After college, most of those friendships fade away. Not because anything goes wrong, but because all that energy that came from shared daily experiences evaporates into the ether. It’s more difficult when the largest energy in my life, the experience I have to share, is with people who are also my “competitors,” in some sense. It can take an active effort to combat that, to not let it get in the way of supportive friendship.

Carolyn is an amazing friend that way. Someone I love, admire and enjoy – and who always makes me feel like an important and precious part of her life in return. Last night we skyped for nearly an hour with Anne Calhoun, sharing this same kind of friendship. There are others, wonderful, nurturing friends, but for the moment I want to celebrate these two and give my thanks to the universe for bringing them into my life.

Love you gals!

16 Replies to “Writers Helping Writers”

  1. It’s not a writerly reference, but my daughter’s competition in class ranking is made up of her closest friends. The top ten students in her high school’s class of 2018 have been cheering each other on since elementary school. They’re fiercely competitive, but without nastiness. They help each other, drive each other, and encourage one another to work harder. My daughter’s best friend is ranked first right now, while my daughter’s in fourth place. She’s excited for her friend, but is still working hard to climb that ladder. Her friend is excited for my daughter and is still working hard to keep her spot. I love how close they are, all ten of them.

    Friendly competition can be such a great source of strength and inspiration. My published YA author friends are amazing. I’m agented and we’ve been fielding submission requests from big publishing houses, but I’m still not official. Yes, I’m super jealous of my friends. But I’m also sincerely happy for them.

    You’re on my list, Jeffe. Some day, when I’m on a book tour promoting The Saline Solution (the hilarious story of a flat girl’s senior year fundraiser to earn a boob job before prom), I’ll find my way to the southwest and look you up. You’ve been one of my favorite book babes and I’d love to buy you a latte and meet you for real.

    Disclaimer; I wrote this just after popping an Ambien and it has totally kicked in. If this is smarmy or disjointed (or both), please pretend you don’t know me. Thanks!

    1. This is not at ALL smarmy or disjointed – I love this! And the story about your daughter is just wonderful. More, it reminds me that it was like that for me, too, back in HS. All of my friends were also in the running for top GPA and valedictorian. It worked just fine. I so appreciate that you’ve brought that back, that we can be competitive in friendly, loving ways.

      Looking forward to hearing your big publishing news and I hope you’ll tag me if I miss it! Can’t wait to have that latte with you! ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. Book babes *snort* I just had a vague memory of writing to you and remembered this post. Amazingly, it’s not completely incoherent. What’s more–I typed that whole thing one-fingered on my phone before falling asleep. Not too bad, eh?

  2. Aw, that is a great post, Jeffe. It is sad to say Goodbye (for now) but glad you guys get to spend time together and hope the time flies by in between when you get to see each other again! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. My writing partner is in Texas and I’m in North Dakota, so we don’t see each other often, either. I’ll get to see her at the RT conference, though, so I can’t wait for that!

    You’re right that it’s great to have those kind of friends and partners in crime, and the romance writing community is especially supportive.

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