Wednesday, October 15, 2014

5 Friends Every Writer Should Have

Do you read a variety of blogs besides those in the world of writing blogs? I do. I don't read many blogs, but those I read cover everything from being a foodie, recreating vintage fashions, fashion in general, the life of a stage actress, and the blog of my favorite two photographers who happen to be married. And, of course, The Art of Manliness. People sometimes look sideways at me when I mention this blog, but let's just say that there is more common-sense for everybody contained within the archives than in many other blogs I could read that are directed toward women. I appreciate the guy's sense of humor, the helpful topics, and the fact that I can then tip off all the guys in my life to a variety of really awesome posts. Recently, The Art of Manliness featured a post about the Five Types of Friends Every Man Should Have. It was an interesting post--I'm not sure I agreed everyone must have those sorts of friends, but it was a fun read and got me to thinking about the Archetypes of the Writing Friends. So here, chillens, is my post of the Five Type of Friends Every Writer Should Have:

#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.


Ms. Anna Law said...

I guess I would fit #4 best. :)

Elisabeth Grace Foley said...

Is that what I am to you? I rather like the sound of that! I do like being a sort of literary scavenger-hunter—and it's always cheering to discover you've unwittingly been an inspiration or entertainment to someone just by doing what you love.

Since my circle of writing friends overlaps with yours somewhat, I think your definitions of Jenny and yourself in those respective roles are spot-on. :)

I think the closest thing I've got to a Watson is my middle sister. We've each got our own writing and storytelling style, but we share a lot of interests, and we "get" each other. We can be sounding-boards for each other's ideas and laugh or commiserate over similar writing experiences. I'm less shy about sharing ideas or showing her something I've written than I am with anyone else.

I don't think I've got a Simon Cowell critic (maybe I need one?), but one person whose opinion I prize most is my mother. She's intelligent, she's a reader and therefore knows good and bad writing when she sees it, and I put a high value on her good opinion in general, so working to impress her is setting a high mark.

Lady Bibliophile said...

Loved this post, Rachel! It's a fun look at the different types of writing friends I have a Simon Cowell and various Watsons, and I heartily agree that Suzannah makes an excellent Exotic Traveller. :)

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. XD So true.

As for me, I'm probably a Watson. I'd rather be a Demi-God, but one can't have everything....


Suzannah said...

Dear me, old Habernish Grackleforth Bandergram IV. Why, I haven't read any of his stuff for simply ages!


My Watson is most certainly Lady Bibliophile, and my Simon Cowell could possibly be Christina of Baehrly Reading, who in everyday life is adorable (and is probably also an excellent Exotic Traveller), but still feels guilty for the (richly-deserved) roasting she gave certain bits of Pendragon's Heir!

Otherwise I think you and Jenny and I fit very well in the roles which you have assigned!

Suzannah said...



Kendra E. Ardnek said...

I'm mostly a Scarlet Pimpernel, the one who seems to be all humor and wit, but when you dig down deeper, I'm actually quite serious - if that makes any sense. I believe I also fill the role of Demigod to a few of my friends, but don't quote me on that one.

My Simon Ramsey (Yeah, I'm changing the name, to be funny) would be my mom, and like you, a few reviewers. Watson would be Miss Melody Muffin, who is a treasure to be sure. I'm not sure I have an Exotic Traveler though ... maybe Cait from the Notebook Sisters?

Another person I find indispensable is the idea generator. They're the person who has all sorts of ideas for stories, but not the talent/tenacity to carry through with them, so they're more than happy to let you use their ideas and make them bigger and better and all that. They're also really good to go to when you're just completely stuck and have no idea where to go next. For me, this is my mom and sister, mostly, though there have been others who have filled the role.

Anonymous said...

<3 Loved this, Rache. And love YOU and so grateful to have you in this writerly working girl journey together.

Sky Destrian said...

Found this via your Watson-esque writing buddy. ;) I love it! I tend to fall under The Scarlet Pimpernel umbrella myself most of the time, but my other writing friends have encouraged me to go deeper with my writing, so I do. Honestly, the parts I have the most fun writing are the banter, the wit, and the dialogue, though. ;)

As for me, I for sure have some Demi-gods in my life, and then one dear Watson friend. I love them all. :) This is an awesome post, and quite amusing too! Thanks for writing it.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Rachel! I love this post! Alas, I don't exactly belong to a group of writers, but if I did, I would probably be the Simon Cowell. I'm ruthless when it comes to grammar and spelling and as for everything else that makes a story great, well, I expect no less than perfection. :-)

Rachel Heffington said...

Elisabeth Foley: A writer-sister? Now that is a luxury! I am glad you think you fit the bill of "Exotic Traveler" should be embarrassing for me otherwise. XD
Schuyler: truly, we can't be everything. But I think we each serve a different role to some few people. Maybe you'll end up someone's demi-god someday.
Suzannah: his stuff is simply the most excellent to be found--haven't been able to put down his Victory of the Chicken and Other Pools of Expertise.
Kendra: excellent! An ideas generator is a wonderful person to have around! My friends and I do this if we have an idea for a story in a genre we don't write but the other one does. :)
Sky: so glad you dropped by! And glad you have Watsons. They are a blessed event.
Sara: we need and value people like you. Now I will tremble for the day you read my stories. XD

Victoria Grace Howell said...

Love this! I'm the exotic traveler my circle I believe lol.

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