Monday, November 28, 2011

Ending Friends

Today's guest post is by crime author Sam Hilliard. His book, "The Last Track", is one of the very few crime novels I've ever finished. He's pretty cute, and very funny.
He also a fellow author at Buddhapuss Ink. 
Some day in the future, we may yet write a book together. Because I think we are friends.

There is one question that people almost never ask writers, which is fortunate, since it’s the very question writers most want to avoid—especially in a public forum. It’s safe to ask them about the writing process, or the inspiration for their main character.  Or possibly how long it took to write the book. If the writer is in a good mood, an entertaining (and often winding) story might follow.

Yet lob this bomb during a writing panel discussion, a setting where a writer is flanked by peers, and it will elicit a very different response: an awkward sort of reaction, like when a groom realizes that the bride is not terribly late for the walk down the aisle, rather, she’s not coming to the wedding.

Which brings me to the taboo query: can two writers really be friends? 

And by friends, I don’t mean in a Facebook or Twitter kind of way, where every acquaintance, no matter how incidental, constitutes a “friend.” Can two individuals, who both consider themselves writers, maintain a healthy friendship? Or at least be the sort of people who could sit next to each other on a grounded plane for more than twenty minutes? 

The answer hinges on how an individual author views the actual business of writing, which has very little to do with the craft. At the risk of oversimplifying the argument, I submit that there are two basic viewpoints, and generally authors adhere to one or the other, albeit not too vocally.

If a writer sees publishing as a zero-sum game, and any bit of success someone else attains detracts from their personal luster, then they cannot be friends with another writer. They probably can’t be very good friends with anyone, but they certainly can’t be friends with a peer. Sooner or later, one of them will be more successful than the other, and the flames of resentment will ignite. One clue you are dealing with a zero-summer, these sorts of authors will not write blurbs for your first novel (or probably anyone else’s who isn’t at least as famous as them).

But if both writers see the business of publishing as a limitless blue ocean, a sea of opportunity with as many possibilities for either of them as well as anyone else, well, there’s a chance they can be good friends. These are the people who look forward to reading what their friend is working on, and cheer each other on from the sidelines. Where appropriate, they might offer constructive advice and support. 
They might even write a book together. 



  1. This is not only valid for writing - with every crative endeavour, there seem to be people who think that the amount of possible success is limited, and that everyone else attempting to be successful in "their" field is a danger to them. And I mean, somehow they are possibly right... if there were only one person to ever publish novels, he (or she) would most certainly be the most successful author. Ever. (Or photographer. Painter. Expressive dancer. You name it.) But there are so many wonderful stories out there, many more than a single person could write, and even more readers. We all know that reading is way faster than writing. Right?

    (I've got a few wonderufl writing friends, and I am happy everytime I hear they are successful. But there are also one or two writers who have been rather quiet since I started publishing short stories... makes me wonder. Well, I'll stick with the wonderful friends.)

  2. Diandra, you've touched a subject that's been bothering me for a good long while now, the staying away of friends once you have a measure of success. I'm not yet ready to blog about it, but some day I will. Thank you for opening that door!