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Posts Tagged ‘writer friends’

It can be hard to read a friend’s work. 

It’s hard enough to try and read like a reader while simultaneously reading like a writer. Whenever I give feedback – whether it’s for my students or for a friend – I try to bob in that place on the surface: letting myself sink a bit into the story while also looking at it from above and outside. 

When you love a friend and are almost as wrapped up their success as they are, it’s an even weightier, tougher place to be. Sometimes I simply can’t. I can not separate the story from the heart enough to read objectively. 

But then, sometimes, I get the most amazing gift. I read my friend’s words and get lost. I fall in, head over heels, head down, bottom up, sinking sinking sinking. And then there’s a whisper, somewhere behind a familiar phrase or view and I think Oh, there you are. I know you. 

And then I go back to reading. My friend is there beside me, but I am somewhere else at the same time. 

It’s both.

Her and not her.

Reading my friends’ work can be hard. But it can also be an exhilarating inspiring gift.

It’s both.

Sarah Tomp

WRITING ON THE SIDEWALK

 

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When Lin Oliver, President of SCBWI, spoke to the San Diego chapter last year, she said, “There is no friend like a friend in thinking.”

I wouldn’t still be writing without those friends of mine. The ones who read my work at its roughest and ugliest. The ones who let me read theirs. The friends who are willing to peek into the deep dark corners of my brain and heart and soul to help me see what’s there. The friends who I can trust to tell me the truth about my writing. And, going the other way too–the ones that trust me with their hopes and dreams, one scene at a time.

The great thing about writer friends is their collective brilliance. They think about things that matter; to me, and to the world. They are creative and surprising. Oh so entertaining! They make me laugh. And cry, but for the right reasons. They are aware. They feel things and admit those feelings.

It wasn’t so long ago that I was in a dark dreary place with my writing. I was feeling the utter fatigue – and despair – of writing into a kind of void. As my Super Blog Buddy astutely pointed out, “You and writing just aren’t getting along right now.”

I hated that I needed outside validation to mark my writing as worthy. But, at the same time, I’d set off on this path with certain goals in mind. Namely, getting published. And if that wasn’t going to happen, then I needed to reevaluate my life. Because writing had completely consumed my life. That’s what I did. That’s what I thought about. Talked about. Obsessed about. Between my kids getting older and handling their own social lives – no more play dates and outings with play groups – and using every spare minute for writing, other friendships have faded a bit.

All my very best friends are writers. So, as I contemplated this revamping of my life, I had to imagine it without these friends. Without, perhaps, any friends. I started plotting my disappearance. The way I’d gradually back off from my critique group. The way I’d stop posting with my weekly check-in group. The way I’d live in a dark, damp cave.

And then, I received a bit of support. Finally, someone – who didn’t know me, who didn’t have any particular obligation to – liked something I wrote. All of a sudden, I didn’t have to pack my cave bag. I don’t know if I would have been able to see my cave plan through. For now, it’s put on hold.

The other night I had dinner with a new writer friend. A friend of a writer friend who was visiting San Diego. Of course we had plenty to talk about. But one thing we talked about  – of course – was rejection. And disappointment. Sorrow. The need to acknowledge it and own it. That’s much harder than feeling it.

And then, because life is like this, my dear friend Tam wrote this post about longing. A must read for writers. Must read. Must.

That’s the hardest thing about having these writer friends that I adore. The ones I think with. I feel their rejections and disappointments almost as deeply as my own. I love their stories. I believe they have something important to say. I know their work is good and strong and true. I feel their deep primal longing, right beside mine.

Yours in thinking,

Sarah

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