Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Writer's Best Friend

Being a writer is a pretty lonely profession. My computer and I are on very intimate terms, and I tend to do my best work when my head hits the pillow at night. While my husband is a writer too, he sticks mainly to screenplays and stage plays, and doesn't have a particularly ravenous appetite for novels. Most of the people I talk to on a daily basis are other moms, and while eight-hundred children attend my daughter's school, I haven't found any other parents there that are writers. But while I consider myself a fairly inverted and reticent person, I've found that lately I'm craving a little company in my professional daydreams. Sometimes bad things happen to good writers, like blocks and personal things getting in the way of inspiration. Sometimes all a writer needs is another writer.

Since joining the Champagne family I've been handed a cornucopia of supportive and creative friends that never tire in their enthusiasm. I know if I need advice or a pick-me-up there's always someone just an email away. While I value that immensely, it's still frustrating when we're scattered across the globe and can't meet for coffee once a week to talk about writing or exchange it. There's really no substitute for a face-to-face meeting between writers. When you start talking about your favorite books and authors, and how much semi-colons and colons mean to you, it can spark creative energy in a way nothing else can.

I have a writer friend with whom I'm lucky enough to meet on a fairly regular basis, and I can now attest to the importance of having writer friends in one's life. We give each other feedback, we commiserate over writer's block, we moan the decline of print while acknowledging the logic of ebooks, and, most importantly, we talk about the books we love, and leave our meetings filled with fire to get back to our own projects. And there's really nothing in the world like having someone whose opinion you strongly respect tell you that you're the real thing, that you've got talent, that something you wrote inspired them to read your words out loud as if they were on stage because it wasn't enough to simply read them silently. If there's a writing book or chatroom that can beat that, I haven't found it.

It's taken me a long time to connect with writing friends in person. I'm shy and don't handle criticism very well, and so I've been reluctant to open myself up that way. But writing buddies serve a much more important purpose than just critique. They can throw you a lifeline sometimes when you need it most.

Ashley J. Barnard
Dark Fantasy with a Contemporary Twist


Julie Eberhart Painter said...

You expressed very well the frustration of writing into a vacuum, because we do that at first. Even the extroverted writers are reluctant to share their inner most WIP while it is still undiciplined raw emotion. Yet those are the best works once they have been honed.

Sharing and "chewing the fat" with other writers keeps me sane (My own opinion). It is a form of social interaction that many writers have had to forgo to make deadlines. We need to find those writing friends again. The chat loops help, but face-time is healing.

Big Mike said...

Now Ashley, what woman does handle critique well. That's why we men have evolved over the years with zipper lips (g).

Michael Davis (
Author of the Year, (2008 and 2009)

Rosemary Gemmell said...

A lovely post, Ashley. I agree with you about the importance of writer friends. I would never have got to where I am without the support of my local writing group, writer friends, and the annual conference I attend. But being published in ebook, I also really value the online support we have at Champagne and other forums. Nothing beats that meet-up in real life, though!

Jude Johnson said...

Dude, we soooo need that whine-wine party soon. It was such a treat to get together last fall and discover how much we have in common. Like Rosemary said, nothing beats that real-life meet up! I'm honored to know a writer of your caliber, even though your dark side kinda scares me a little... ;-D

It's important to know you aren't going bonkers with some of the internal conversations we have with our characters--and only other writers know how that feels. Thanks for a timely post!


January Bain said...

Gosh, Ashley, I wished you lived closer to me, we have so much in common! I live in such a tiny town that there is no one to meet and talk with about writing.

Rohit Singh Jain said...

You've nicely written down this post..Frustration to be expressed is an art in itself! And you seem to have mastered it! :) Yes, I do feel that criticism should be taken positively in the better good for the long run. And yeah, writer friends help in this and many important aspects too.