#1: The Demi-God
This friend is generally more advanced along the path of wordcrafting than you are. They write things that frequently stump you while giving you this great craving to achieve the same. Your writing never compares because the Inspirer is usually accomplished in a completely different style and voice than your own. This friend is an invaluable asset because they keep you on your toes. You want to become like The Demi-God? You'll have to work hard, write tough, and keep at it past the point of no return. Also, you'll have to figure out how to be a little mysterious, because The Demi-God is inscrutable. In my world, the colleague who wins the title of The Demi-God, is Jennifer Freitag.
#2: The Scarlet Pimpernel
This friend is the one who writes like a fool--usually humor, light-handed raillery, nonsense, and a goodly serving of wit. They might seem that they are incapable of gravity, or of handling intense subjects, or of doing anything besides pulling a face, but this writer has guts. As Mary Ann Shaffer has it, "I did make fun of many war-time situations; the Spectator felt a light approach to the bad news would serve as an antidote and that humour would help raise London's low morale. I am very glad Izzy served that purpose, but the need to be humorous against the odds is--thank goodness--over." This friend will seldom, if ever, show their deeper side on the page, but they are capable of understanding and responding to philosophy, logic, and rich emotion. In my circle, I take the title of The Scarlet Pimpernel.
#3: The Simon Cowell
This is the person who is a terrible bee in your bonnet. Sometimes they are actually in your circle of friends, sometimes they are a blog reader or a book reader or a critic whose affections are stupidly hard to win. This is the colleague who consistently gives you a low rating, and when your new book comes out you are hard-pressed to think of anything else but whether you'll have gained a star this time around. While this friend is hard to please, their criticism is worthwhile and is never rude. They have considerable talent themselves and their opinions--while hard to swallow--are often just and at least well thought-out. This friend will do even more than The Inspirer to grow your career because you aren't star-struck by their prowess. This friend brings out a determination to prove them wrong. And I'll have to give this to them: they usually don't grudge you success once you've attained it. They're tough as hobnailed boots to win, but they give warm approval when you've conquered. In my circle, the award for Simon Cowell goes to my grandmother, various readers, and Daphne Edmonston
#4: The Watson
Every writer needs a Watson in their lives. It's exhausting being interesting and brilliant and accomplished all the time, and we want someone to stroke our heads and tell us we're wonderful. But we want that someone to be versed in our arts and able to batter around ideas with us while still being complimentary and amenable to most anything we say. This person is priceless. They cheer you through the rough parts, can talk you back around to thinking you've got this novel-writing thing down, and know what to say when you exhibit a line, a paragraph, or even a bally first chapter for their approval. If you've found a Watson, keep the Watson. And Watsonize for them when the occasion arises. My Watson Award goes to Meghan Gorecki.
#5: The Exotic Traveler
This writer is the one who reads everything you have not read. This person references reams of books and authors and articles in their blog posts, most of which you have never even heard. Just when you think you can't possibly stomach another hackneyed quote by C.S. Lewis on the joys of reading or writing or so forth, up this excellent man (or woman) comes with some spit-fire line from some obscure person like Habernish Grackleforth Bandergram IV that makes you laugh and realize the literary world is so very much broader than you took it for. The Exotic Traveler will revamp your bookshelf, spice up your life, and bring trade-winds to your corner of the world. Other side-effects of knowing The Exotic Traveler includes introduction to new genres, the benefit of taste and opinions cultivated in foreign soil, and a new perspective on the width, breadth, and height of the written word. My prized and exotic travelers are: Elisabeth G. Foley and Suzannah Rowntree.
So what about you? Which role do you fit? Which role fits your colleagues, compatriots, and co-conspirators? Have I left out any absolutely vital archetypes? Let's chat in the comments--you know I love to start a good row.