So . . . I was originally going to write about the difference between FRUSTRATION and DISCOURAGEMENT in pursuing publication, but then a news story caught my eye, and I was going to write about THAT but when I logged onto the Murderati Members Only site, I discovered that one of my more knowledgeable fellow bloggers has a brilliant post on the very subject I was going to discuss . . .
So I went back to my FRUSTRATION v. DISCOURAGEMENT idea. Only, I don’t want to talk about being frustrated in this business, or discouraged. Because tonight I’m elated.
No, I haven’t hit any lists recently, nor have I heard any good news. In fact, as far as careers go, mine is in limbo. I’ve had some major upheavals recently, and honestly, probably shed more tears over writing and the business of writing in the last four months than in the four years I’ve been published.
But I am elated. I’m calm because there’s one thing I have now that I never had at the beginning of my writing career:
Okay, don’t feel too sorry for me. I had friends of course, and a very few who I consider close personal friends, like Trisha who I dedicated SPEAK NO EVIL to. (My first book I dedicated to my mom; my second to my husband; my third to a fallen sheriff’s deputy from my adopted hometown. So Trisha is a dear friend who got my fourth dedication!)
But in THIS business–publishing–“friends” means something completely different.
We have MySpace friends. And Facebook friends. People follow us on Twitter and subscribe to the RSS feeds on our blogs. They are FRIENDS–in the broad sense of the word. They either like our books, or want to learn about publishing, or met us at a conference and liked our humor (that would be Toni, not me!), or think that by friending us they are networking because my friends are your friends, in a mi casa et su casa kind of way (and no, I don’t speak Spanish–I took three years of Latin in high school–so if I got that wrong, don’t shoot me.)
But true friends are those you can vent to. Those you can commiserate with. Those who will stand by you No. Matter. What.
In publishing, especially when you’re in the same relative field of fiction, your friends can also be your competition. But true friends don’t consider that a reader may have to chose between their book and yours on pay day. A true friend will always give you the best advice they can because they love you and want you to succeed–because your success has nothing to do with their success.
In 2008, I attended the RWA conference in San Francisco. I regularly attend both Thriller Writers and Romance Writers because (surprise) I write romantic thrillers that I think appeal to both sides of the line. I went to the RWA conference coming off a great Thrillerfest, but at the same time I was stressed because of personal family issues and I was president of PASIC, the Published Author chapter of RWA, and had a major event to host. Evidentially I offended someone because I didn’t recognize them or I didn’t pay proper homage or I said something wrong. I don’t know, because I only heard about this third hand. It hit me then for the first time that maybe–just maybe–I needed to change. That when I left my hotel room, I needed to be “on” and “alert” at all times.
I didn’t leave my hotel room much that conference.
But one person was there for me, and understood what I said even when I didn’t make any sense. (Ah-ha! you’re all thinking, it must be Toni. You’re right!)
I have had some major ups and downs in my career, and Toni has stood by me from the very beginning. I have a few other friends who have always stood by me as well, and they know who they are. But when the world comes crashing down, or when I have terrific news, Toni is the first person I want to talk to.
I only met Toni after I sold, but before my book came out. We met online though Backspace, a group for writers (which I have sorely neglected of late.) We were both attending the first ThrillerFest in 2006 (Right after my first B2B2B trilogy came out.) Toni confessed that she was nervous and an introvert (she doesn’t act it, but she is! Trust me!) and wanted to know if I’d have a meal or two with her. We ate virtually every meal together, talked until the wee hours of the night, and I was so blessed that she actually liked me. (Toni is smart, funny, and a far better writer than I can ever hope to be.)
As my career progressed, I realized that sharing information or fears or worries or highs or lows wouldn’t be taken the same way by the same people. For example, if I am at all critical of something in my career, I have a half dozen people telling me they wish they had my problems. I want to shake them and say, really? You want them? You want to stay up until three in the morning for two weeks, knowing you have to get up at seven to get the kids to school because you have a tight deadline? But the grass is always greener, and some people think that the life of a bestselling author is all glamour and bon-bons and working 10-to-2.
Except the people who know better.
There’s an urban legend that may be true, may be false, but I’m inclined to think it’s true. Apparently, someone cornered Nora Roberts in the elevator at one RWA and said, “OMG, I want to be you.” And allegedly, Ms. Roberts said, “Really? You want to be me?” And then laid into her.
I read JT’s facebook status yesterday. On Saturday, she was working on her next book. I was working on revisions. My friend Christy Reece posted early in the morning that she was editing all day.
I’m not sharing all this to get sympathy. I’m sharing today because I want you all to look around you. Who is the one person you can count on No. Matter. What? Who will stand by you if you rob a liquor store, murder your boss, or . . . oh, wait. Sorry. Scratch that.
Who will stand by you while you vent? Complain? Even if you’re wrong, they’ll listen and give you loving correction, because they love you and want you to succeed. No matter what.
Thank you Toni, I would never have gotten through these last few months without you standing by me!