Making the “Write” Connection
My friend and partner in this venture, Julia Simpson, is an extraordinarily talented literary writer whose distinctive voice speaks equally to educated elitists and ordinary folks like me. Anyone who takes time to read the samples she’s made available on this blog will realize she deserves to be read and appreciated by a vast audience. I know her time will come, so she doesn’t need me to blow her horn on that end. What I wanted to convey here concerns Julia the person, and how our friendship has enriched my life.
As with her writing, Julia’s personality is a mix of intellectual genius, keen observation, and witty, wry humor. Our connection on the latter is what makes our friendship so special. What is life without humor? If we can’t share a laugh with someone—even (or perhaps especially) when it’s at our own expense—then what is the point of living? Julia perks me up on the down days, and I am usually able to do the same for her. We understand how hard it is to keep doing what we do, and that sharing details of our lives with each other, the good, the bad, and the indifferent, makes it easier to cope with the insanities of today’s writing world.
As mentioned on my previously published page, I truly expected adding Hoop Lore to my resume was going to make the difference. Alas, agents couldn’t have cared less. What did Hoop Lore or the Elvis-Nixon book have to do with the project I was querying them about? Anyone can write non-fiction, all they have to do is research. At least that’s what one agent told me. But that’s a topic for another day. The point is, Hoop Lore didn’t help land me that long sought-after agent deal. When I met Julia a year later, I was very close to unplugging my keyboard for good. I didn’t see the point in writing another book that no one was ever going to read.
No one understands a writer but another writer. That sentence is in bold print for a reason. Read it a few more times, because it’s the one universal truth of our business. Your spouse and kids and other relatives and friends might be supportive, but that isn’t the same as understanding. They sympathize with your rejections, but they don’t realize how much it hurts, on both a creative and personal front, because it’s never happened to them. We spend years on a project, rewrite and rewrite again, solicit the opinions of our colleagues, rewrite some more, and finally, when we’re as satisfied as we can be (who among us every stops revising completely?), we send off a sample hoping against hope that we might hit an agent or editor on a good but slow day where he or she might actually read more than the first two or three sentences. In all but very rare instances, weeks or months of anxious waiting lands us a form rejection. Or nothing at all.
As a species, we’ve benefited from the internet, and blogs in particular; it’s easy to find other writers in cyberspace. It helps to read their experiences and know we aren’t alone. But we don’t know them as people with lives away from writing. At best, they are acquaintances we might exchange e-mails with. More likely, they’re total strangers with whom we’ll never connect. Since they don’t identify with us as individuals, they don’t care if we had a lousy day, if our kids are sick, or our spouse was just laid-off. Likewise, they don’t care if we had a great day. Maybe we discovered a wonderful new book or movie we can’t get out of our minds. Or maybe we just ate a fabulous piece of chocolate cake—one good thing at the end of a crummy day—and we want to share that upbeat moment with someone who appreciates the simplicity of it.
I’ve made some really good writing friends over the years—people who truly do understand the writing side of my life. We remain supportive of each others projects and exchange writing-related favors whenever asked. But at the end of the day, we never talk about that fabulous piece of chocolate cake. That’s what’s so great about Julia. Not only will she appreciate my having enjoyed the cake, she’ll drop by to share a slice. A delicious piece of chocolate cake, a shared smile, a reason to keep on going for another day. What more could any writer hope for?