Christina Dodd on Friends, Enemies and Writing
I was once asked to write a chapter for HOW TO WRITE A ROMANCE, the book Romance Writers of America published in conjunction with Writer’s Digest. As a subject for me, they suggested Selling A Book Can Change Your Life.
I burst into laughter. I called my published friends. I read them the subject. Each one of them burst into laughter. We laughed, I think, because while selling a book may change your life, it won’t change you.
Which is why you’d better stay in touch with the friends who knew you before you were published. They’re — what’s the word I’m looking for? — normal. They’re the people who when you tell them you’re writing a book, they say stuff like, “That explains it.” Old friends like you for yourself, not for your position or what they can get out of you. They retain the remarkable view that yeah, you’re a writer, and a writer is a person who worked hard and got a phone call that provided employment and a paycheck — and about time, too!
As you get involved in writing, you’ll make new friends: your critique group, the person who sits at your table at an RWA lunch, people who go to the movies with you, and when you say, “There’s the first plot point,” or “Could they be more obvious with the foreshadowing?” they nod their heads instead of saying, “Mother! Do you have to ruin every movie in my life?” These are writing friends, and as far as the rest of the world is concerned, they’re odd.
As far as you’re concerned, they’re just like you.
Probably both things are true.
Writers are some of the most supportive, most interesting, witty people in the world. (Photo is from Romance Writers of America conference where I was the luncheon speaker and my writing friends were my support . L to r: Geralyn Dawson, Lisa Kleypas, Connie Brockway, Susan Kay Law, moi, Eloisa James, Teresa Medeiros, Elizabeth Beverly, Heather MacAllister.)
There are also a few who think if they bring you down, they’ll step into your place. So be generous with your support and your time. Be cautious about confiding your publishing woes and triumphs.
What else is it I’m supposed to talk about?
Don’t worry about that.
All you have to do is write your first chapter, and you’ll make an enemy.
Finish your manuscript. You’ll make an enemy. Win an award. You’ll make an enemy. Get published, make a bestseller list, get a good review … you’ll make an enemy. Success will provide you with enemies. Those kinds of enemies don’t matter. What they say about you is none of our business. Write the chapter, finish the manuscript, win the award, get published, make the bestseller list, get a good review.
Bring on the enemies! The alternative is failure. Have courage. Give the best that you can give. Be proud to tell your stories, and tell those stories with all your skill and all your heart. Maybe success will come. Maybe not. But no matter what, you will have made a very important person happy. You will have made yourself happy. And you deserve that. You deserve happiness.
Look for more of my articles about writing, including:
The Best Way to Write a Book (it’s the only way.)
Brief and Random Writing Tips
Where Do You Get Your Ideas?
Romance Clichés for the 21st Century