I say feh to negativity and instead, want to talk about things a writer needs most – friends.
When I first started out, I had no real concept of what this business would be like. So it was all just sort of theoretical and in a few ways that was good because I wouldn’t have been as disapointed if things hadn’t worked out.
But later on, as things began to move forward for me, I realized how important it was to have friends you can trust. And it’s not like this idea in general, was new to me. I’ve always thought friends were important. But for whatever reason, this business can be filled to the brim with negativity sometimes and having people who can help you through it all is priceless.
For instance – rejections. Oh we can all pretend that “rejection is part of the business” so it shouldn’t bother us. And it is part of the business, don’t get me wrong. And you do have to get past it. But you’d be inhuman if it didn’t bother you on some level. So what a friend who writes can do is help you to see the rejection as a learning tool – how to glean whatever information is in the letter to make the ms better and/or send you virtual chocolate and grousing about how totally blind that editor is for not seeing your brilliance. It takes a friend who’s been there to help you through the particularly hard ones and to help you pick yourself up and move forward. You can’t wallow too long because it will happen again, but a good friend is gonna spot you while you’re wallowing and then tell you when it’s time to get out of the pool if you’ve been in too long.
Bad reviews – your friends are going to help you be philosophical about the run of the mill bad review. They’re going to remind you that books are subjective because people read them and everyone looks at the world differently. A good friend will tell you when you’re overreacting. And a good friend will also tell you when a review is more about the issues of the reviewer and not the book at all. And a good friend will remember that just because we put our books out there, it doesn’t mean it won’t hurt when people question our motives, our honor or our honesty. A good friend will also tell you when it’s time to shut up about it and move on – an important quality in a friend, LOL.
Blocks – oh god, this one is hard because you can be blocked for a whole host of reasons. But a good writerly friend can help you brainstorms and plot, they’ll crit for you, they’ll check in to see how you’re doing. Sometimes they have great tips for how to get past the block.
Writing in general – what a prize a good friend who is a good critter can be! And by good, I mean honest. People like to say, “oh I’m a brutally honest critter” but most of the time what they mean is they’re just overly bitter and negative and their crit isn’t helpful or constructive at all. A blunt critter is a huge help at least for me because while it’s nice to get pets from your friends, I want to improve my writing and a good critter will say, “this scene doesn’t work, why is it here?” Or “is this necessary?” and offer other perspectives on what may work or not. A friend wants you to succeed and will just say, “you can do better.”
Advice always helps. Support when you’re low, celebration when things go well. It’s good to have people in your corner to get you through. Are there haters? Yes. Are there fake people who pretend to be nice but who’ll stab you in the back when they can? Yes. But for every one of them there are ten good people. It’s important to be choosy and to try your damndest to rise above the pool of people who live to be bitter. It’s easy to be bitter and it’s easy to let that claim your existence so all you have is negativity. And that becomes a cycle because it garners attention as well and it’s hard not to feed on that. But a true friend will help you rise above, will tell you, “no good can come from that response” and a true friend will pet your head and shake theirs ruefully at you when you do the wrong thing.
Don’t forget the people who’re with you now and who’ve been there through thick and thin. A true friend is a rare and wonderful thing.