Greetings, fellow octopi. Welcome Back to our First Ever Q&A!
Today we shall continue exploring The Topic of Writerly Friends, via endever*. Once again this will be a Question and Answer format — to give you, dear readers, a chance to see this important facet of our lives from two different viewpoints. Last week the set of questions were answered be GeGi; and now we get to see what endever* has to say about the subject…
Without further ado, let us acquire appropriate refreshments and begin!
- First Question: Beyond the strictly literal (friends who are both writers), what does a Writer Friendship mean to you?
“Friends who are both writers” implies coincidence, whereas I think writer friendships can be more deliberate or at least more conscious/aware. The friends know that they can turn to each other for support on their writing, and trust that it’s okay for them to ramble about their projects to each other. There’s a tacit understanding that both people are good writers and can get to be much better writers (not to mention evil and more evil), with the writerly friendship being a safe place to make that happen – this understanding creates a positive environment where both people can flourish.
- Second Question: What kind of writers are you or would you wish to become friends with? For example, do you find it more helpful when their style matches or contrasts with your own, and why?
As GeGi noted in ver post, we are so different from each other! I think there are probably some pros to having writer friends who are more similar, too, but all the benefits ve described regarding contrasting styles are priceless. You know (metaphor time), there’s this idea that sometimes accompanies personality typing systems: that along any continuum between two related but opposite traits (for example introversion-extroversion), we all tend to have a natural preference of whatever strength… But that the most truly functional people learn to modify their instinctual inclinations in situations that call for it, thus creating a more balanced expression of their personalities. I think this same idea applies to contrasting writer traits too: as I become exposed to styles besides my own, I can learn to integrate those skills into my own repertoire – even if they don’t feel natural to me – when the situation calls for it. Thus, I become a better, more versatile writer.
- Third Question: What are the various roles which writer friends have taken for you? For example: beta reader, plot hole patching, world-building counterpoint, emotional cheerleader, ideas ping-pong, good company, etc.
I don’t think I’ve had a writer friend beta read for me at yet, but most of the other examples for sure! Probably the most directly valuable roles for me are when my writing friend is an emotional cheerleader, good company, and a sort of “sounding board” for whatever my writer brain is currently angsting about. But also a huge role GeGi takes on for me is just being an inspiration – I get to see some of ver process with ver writing, including fantastic worldbuilding – and that gets me thinking in more creative ways about the sheer possibilities of being an evil author. Ginny Weasley conveys this sentiment when she says that growing up with Fred and George for brothers made her start to think that “anything’s possible if you’ve got enough nerve” – being friends with daring, creative, dedicated writers makes whole universes seem suddenly possible.
- Fourth Question: What various benefits do you feel you gain in a writer friendship, and which do you feel you contribute to the relationship?
There’s a sense of comraderie (or perhaps I mean commiseration) within a writer friendship that makes the hard work of writing feel less lonely and makes the shared joys of writing more tangible. So many aspects of my life as an author are hard to adequately explain to muggles; they’ll never quite get it if I come to them stuck or excited or otherwise wrapped up in my writing. So having a writer friend fills an important gap for me. As far as what I contribute, I’d like to think my listening ear is useful, and that I ask questions about my writer friend’s work that prompt them to expand their world and their characters even further than they’d already envisioned. I don’t know if I have many skills to share in terms of supporting someone on their revision quest, but when it comes to first drafts especially I think can be a good cheerleader for sheer productivity.
- Fifth Question: What are some of the ways in which a writer friend can aid in the quest for Evil Authorhood? (Feel free to use examples.)
Inspiration, inspiration, inspiration! I love overhearing GeGi‘s evil ideas for ver characters and picking up on the glee with which ve considers them. And having a writer friend to bounce ideas off of can help with parsing out the fine lines of being evil, too – it’s good to run ideas by someone else if you’re not sure if you’re pushing it too far. Also, having your writer friend help with beta reading is a great way to evaluate how effective your evil decisions are in achieving your goals for your reader experience – especially if you ask them to leave comments in the margins as they go that show their emotional reactions to your story.
- Sixth Question: Have you participated in a formal writer’s group or network? How would you compare the experience to a more informal one-on-one writer friendship?
The writers’ groups/networks I’ve been a part of have been the sort that focus on actual writing, rather than the seemingly more common sort that focus on feedback/revision. This is a strong preference of mine thus far in the community-building aspect of my writing “career” – I’d rather sit around drumming up collective creative energy by actually WRITING together instead of just going over critique after critique of existing works. Same idea regarding my frequent participation in NaNoWriMo… I think it’s just personal taste, though, and whatever you like best is what you can choose to bring into your one-on-one writer friendships.
In pretty much every circumstance I do better in two-person interactions than group interactions (one facet of my experience of being autistic, I think), so writer friendships are inherently somewhat more comfortable/workable for me than larger groups. The informality is conducive to my disabilities, also, because rather than struggling to meet set expectations (like specific meeting times) when my symptoms are flaring, I can reply to messages from a writer friend on a more flexible timeline. Again, these preferences are personal – if you work best in groups and/or with more structure, then your mileage may vary.
- Seventh Question: What is the best advice a writer friend has ever given you?
“Take a walk”! As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, walks are often a great way to get me unstuck, but in the midst of writerly crises don’t always remember that. So GeGi has been known to point this out as initial first aid when I message ver mid-panic. Another frequent helpful reminder from ver is that I don’t have to do stuff “right” so much as I just have to make stuff functional – that is, as long as how I’m writing creates the experience for my reader that I’m aiming for, then forget the supposed rules!
- Eighth Question: Please list any ideas or suggestions for finding and developing new writer friendships.
Well, I think the most obvious course of action is to look for friends or acquaintances you already have who happen to be writers, and deliberately cultivate a more writerly relationship with them! If you don’t have any friends/acquaintances who fit this description, you could try convincing some innocent bystanders in your life to become writers, but that might take a lot of effort. It’s probably much more efficient to go to wherever established writers already are – writing groups, forums, NaNoWriMo, or even just niche communities inside the social networking sites you already haunt. You could let people know directly that you’re looking for writing friends, or you could just hang out awhile and see what develops organically – it’s all up to your individual style. In any case, I think you should feel free to have meta-conversations about the friendship as it develops – that is, you can always check in with the other person about what facets of the relationship are working well for each of you versus what could improve.
- Ninth Question: And finally, please describe a perfect day with your writer friend.
It includes the following ingredients – caffeine, simple meals, scattered stacks of notebooks/scratch paper, more writing utensils that you’d think would be necessary, enough outlets/extension cords for appropriate technology, long walks, gleeful word count updates, sounding-board discussions, thoughtful questions, supported troubleshooting, occasional read-aloud excerpts, phones on silent, and definitely hours at a time where the only sounds are keyboard strokes and occasional chuckles.
Thus concludes our first foray into a Q&A format! Thank you so very much for reading it; if you have any other questions for endever*, please leave a comment below. We hope to see you all next week for our new topic: What Happens When the Words Stop, by GeGi.