Writing Partners: Face-to-face Friends

Photobucket image by smarthealthyandgreen

Do your face-to-face friends know you’re a writer? Do they know about your dream of publication?

I’ve read some blog posts about the lonely life of a writer and others about those who are reluctant to reveal the fact that they’re writers.

I think one can be the result of the other, but we can choose not to remain lonely. I did.

Writing is, by nature, a solitary endeavor.

We sit by ourselves with our fingers flying over our keyboards. While those like me, who tend to be more introverted, might not feel isolated, I understand that spending hours on end with no human contact can be difficult for others.

Cyber colleagues are wonderful. I have many treasured online writing buddies, but there’s nothing like a F2F friend. (I just learned that’s texting talk for face-to-face. :-))

Some of us are blessed to have local writer friends. I have several. Like me, though, they’re busy and don’t always have time to “do lunch.”

There’s a wealth of support to be found from our real life, non-writer friends.

When I chose to pursue my dream of being a writer five years ago, I made a decision. Having been an assistant editor at a small publishing house back in the days when wrinkles were on my clothes and not my face, I knew I had a rough road ahead. The odds of suffering rejections and setbacks are great, the odds of being published slim. Therefore, I decided to go public and enlist the support of my friends.

Was it easy to tell others I was writing a novel? Nope! Am I glad I did. You betcha!

Our non-writer friends won’t “get” us at firstbut with our help, they can.

Like so many who’ve boldly declared that they’re going to write a book, I met with the usual questions when I told others about my writing.

“Are you published?” “Where can I get your book?” “When will your book be out?”

Rather than let the inevitable questions discourage me, I did two things.

1) I chose to view my friends’ questions about my writing as support.

My friends like me. If they didn’t they wouldn’t be my friends, right? Therefore, I realized that their questions were a way of showing interest in me and what I’m doing.

Since my friends aren’t writers themselves, I couldn’t very well expect them to ask, “So, how did things turn out with that troublesome scene? Did shifting from the hero’s POV to the heroine’s work?” Instead, they asked the same questions I probably would have asked in my pre-writer days.

2) I viewed the questions as an opportunity to gently educate my friends.

When I began writing, I hand an insider’s view of the publishing world gained during my years working at the publishing house. Most people, however, only see the image the media presents.

I’ve lost count of the number of shows in which a writer completes that first book, sells it with no trouble, sees it on the shelves a couple of months later, and rockets to the New York Times bestseller list within weeks. I’m hooked on the show Bones and love her unique character, but the reality is that very few writers hold down a demanding job like hers—at which she works 60-80 hours per week, write a bestseller in their spare time, and make a small fortune overnight.

We writers know the realities of this business and how long and hard we have to work before we receive the first glimmers of hope. Our friends don’t. But we can teach them by giving out snippets of information slowly.

Over time, our F2F friends will grasp the realities of the publishing world.

I know. I’ve seen it happen.

These days, when I go to church or have a lunch date with an non-writer gal pal, the questions are much different.

“What have you heard from your agent?” “How are things coming with your submission?”

Rarely does a Sunday go by without at least one person asking my about my writing. This past week six did.

There are three women in particular who have been faithful to touch base with me week after week, listen intently as I respond to their inquires, and are a tremendous source of support. They graciously allowed me to get a picture with them, all taken by another supportive friend and fellow writer, Richard Burrill.

Me with Joyce Burrill

Me with Ann Johnson

Me with Gloyes Prichard

* * * * *

I wanna know . . .

Are you hesitant to tell others about your writing?

What has been the response when you’ve told people that you’re writing?

How do you think you could solicit the support of your face-to-face friends?

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About Keli Gwyn

I'm an award-winning author of inspirational historical romance smitten with the Victorian Era. I'm currently writing for Harlequin's Love Inspired Historical line of wholesome, faith-filled romances. My debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, was released July 1, 2012. I'm represented by Rachelle Gardner of Book & Such Literary. I live in a Gold Rush-era town at the foot of the majestic Sierras. My favorite places to visit are my fictional worlds, other Gold Country towns and historical museums. When I'm not writing I enjoy taking walks, working out at Curves™ and reading.
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19 Responses to Writing Partners: Face-to-face Friends

  1. Erin says:

    A lot of my friends didn’t know I was an aspiring writer until I got my book deal…but your post is so great as it really tells me how my “real life” friends can be a support.

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      I’m sure your “real life” friends are very happy for you, Erin, and will be eager to hold your book in their hands. It’s not long until your release day.

      Congratulations on the baby boy who will be joining your family a few months from now. =)

  2. Wow! Powerful.
    I was hesitant to say I’m a writer, but not anymore. It’s who I am. My friends and I don’t talk about writing cause they don’t get it. I answer questions and so on, but I turn to my F2F writing friends for that.

    Great post!

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Bonnie, it’s neat that you have F2F writer friends who “get” you. One of my greatest pleasure doing lunch with my gal pal writing buddies who live nearby.

  3. Anne Barton says:

    Great post, Keli! We definitely wouldn’t want our non-writing friends to feel left out!

    They say that if you want to find your ideal job, you should choose the thing that gets you excited when it’s the topic of conversation at a cocktail party. For me, one of those things is writing. I think that when we’re passionate about something, it shows, and enthusiasm is catching (as long as we don’t drone on too long, lol!)

    It also helps to find some common ground. I have a friend who’s really into knitting and she creates amazing things. Little works of art, they are. Well, even though I don’t know the first thing about knitting, I admire the creativity and dedication that go into it. That’s something I can relate to.

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Anne, you make a great point. Knowing what’s important to our friends and sharing in their passions is important. Joyce and Ann are excellent musicians. Gloyes is a retired teacher and blesses the lives of children in a after-school tutoring program.

  4. T. Anne says:

    I’m VERY hesitate but as of late a few more people know in my RL. Part of the reason is I don’t think they’d get my writing. They assume I write picture books, or Christian fiction and I don’t write either. I feel slightly like a heretic. Wish I was kidding.

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      T. Anne, I think your F2F friends will have reason to celebrate with you one day soon when Rachelle has sold your book. I’m certainly looking forward to doing so.

  5. Martina Bedregal Calderón says:

    I am writing since many years, but only sent some of the stories, novels and poetry to some of my best friends in Germany and Scotland and UK. They read it and often told me that I should try to publish it. But I was too shy to send it to author’s competitions or publishers.

    What finally gave me courage to publish my first story online and now to send it to publishers is your blog here, Keli. 🙂

    So to you and all on this blog and website: I wish you success with your writing and will be delighted if one day I can buy your books :-))

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Martina, how exciting that you’re pursuing your dream of getting your stories published. Are they in German or English? Will you be sending them to U.S. publishers or German? How does one go about getting stories published in Germany? Is the process much like ours where many authors seek literary agents to submit their work for them, or do most publishers accept queries directly from writers?

      • Martina Bedregal Calderón says:

        Hello Keli,

        the stories are in German, but I am translating two now to English (I hope I find a proof/beta reader for it). I will first send them to german publishers and join two 2011 competitions for nwauthors (how brave I have become..haha).

        Here in Germany most authors send their works straight to publishers in the hope that one publishes them.

  6. This topic interests me because of the wide variation in reactions to a writing career.

    I actually found it easier *before* I was contracted, in some ways. Then, people didn’t ask about it as much. Now, I find that I often must think about where to draw the line and tactfully change the subject. I don’t want to become the person who is always talking about myself. The problem is that people find it interesting, once you have a contract, and they want to know what’s going on. And because I spend so much time alone, often for long periods without contact from publishing professionals, it can be very tempting to answer all their questions and keep talking just so I feel someone knows or understands what I’m doing all day! But I must exercise some self-control. I think I’m going to start imposing a three-or-four sentence limit for public conversations in groups. One on one is different.

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Rosslyn, like you, I don’t want to bore those who ask about my writing by giving TMI. I’ll admit that in the early days when I was a florescent green newbie, I was guilty of saying too much. I soon learned that some people were just being polite when they asked about my writing. Others were genuinely interested. Once I learned to pick up on the non-verbals (yawns, glassy-eyed stares, eyes darting to others in the room whom they hoped would rescue them from overly enthusiastic me), I came up with an elevator pitch type of response, which I still use today.

      My close F2F friends with whom I meet one-on-one are honestly interested in my writing journey. I’ll attempt to wrap up my recap, but they often have more questions. When I sense the need to move on so I don’t become an obnoxious bore, I shift the conversation by asking them about the exciting things happening in their lives. I love to listen to a gal pal who’s talking about her passions.

  7. Great post, Keli. I like that you view friends asking about your writing as support. You’re so right, that’s exactly what it is. And just because their questions aren’t as specific as the questions writer friends might ask doesn’t mean they don’t care. I still hesitate to talk to real life friends about my writing because I always find it hard to explain the process (especially how long it takes to get to the publishing level) but I’m working on being more open about it.

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Cindy, I think being a teacher’s wife has rubbed off on me. I enjoy helping my friends understand my writing world. Many of them are quite interested, just as I’m interested in learning about what they do. It’s amazing what a wealth of knowledge I can gain when I engage in conversations with people about their passions.

      I do seem to be more “public” about my writing life with my F2F friends than many of my writing buddie. That might be due to the fact that when I’m into something, I embrace it wholeheartedly. Plus, I credit writing with bringing me out of my shell. I’ve grown more comfortable talking with people now that I have something I’m passionate about–and something I’ve found many people are curious about. I’ve been surprised to find out how many people harbor a dream of writing. If I can offer them any encouragement, I’m eager to do so.

  8. Martina Bedregal Calderón says:

    To writers who still hesitate in telling their friends about their writing, and to Keli : Maybe we can open a blog or a topic here where we can post extracts (some sentences, a page) of our writing… What do you think?

  9. Martina Bedregal Calderón says:

    I would love to read some lines /texts of all the people who post in your blog and of you!! 🙂

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