There is something rather reassuring to know that you can bounce ideas off the people around you, and know that you are going to get an honest opinion. Whether that opinion is aligned to what you think is irrelevant. It’s the honesty behind it that encourages you to think from an outside perspective.
There is just something so damn refreshing about having that there, whenever you need it. But these are not just ‘take, take’ relationships. They are ‘give, take’ relationships. The reciprocal action is what makes it work. There are days when I need specific sets of advice from certain people who I know have more experience than I do… and it’s awesome to have those special people there to help me clarify ideas.
This works particularly well with my amazing critique partners. Seriously – these women are something special. Each of them all have very different experiences in the writing and publishing world… much like I do within my literary world as well. The very cool thing about this little team that I have surrounding me, is that each of those critters all write in different genres to me, and therefore with one book that I give to them to read and seek opinion on, I can get a great reader and writer perspective from them. The honesty is in the feedback.
Some days I get feedback that I really don’t want. And I think that every single writer in the world gets feedback like that. The book you write is never the book that is read. Seriously. Everyone’s perspective of your book is their own, and it is up to you as the writer to decipher what feedback will work for you and what wont.
The thing I like the most about having critique partners is the thanks that I get for supporting them. I have a good friend/critique partner who has just released her debut novel, and I am just so damn proud of her. She has worked so very hard – and I can’t believe that I’m going to be able to walk into a bookshop shortly, and see it sitting there on the shelf. I will stand there proudly gazing upon its gorgeous cover, and know that I have contributed to the development of that book by reading, critiquing, and supporting that author to get through this arduous process. Then I’ll end up buying it for my special collection.
I have another friend/critique partner who has just released her trilogy, and soon it will be in paperback. And I seriously can’t wait to see those books sitting proudly upon my bookshelf in my home library. These are the moments in time when I will look at these massive achievements from women I know, and know that as a critique partner, and as a good friend, I have done my duty. I have given feedback and support to these authors, and they have chosen what they can use, and what they can’t, and they have created from that.
Just over a year ago, when the Christchurch earthquake struck on 22nd Feb, I developed an amazing friendship with someone who was calling out for writers to come together for a charity anthology. Usually I would never have responded. Seriously. I am not that sort of person. But because this was for such a worthy cause that was so close to my heart, I felt I had to respond. And all I was offering at the time was to help her round up writers and support her with the development of this massive project. Throughout that time, the friendship that I developed with her was amazing. I class this woman as one of my closest friends, and we talk every single day. I’m not kidding. I know everything about her, and her family. She knows everything about me and mine. And it’s amazing that we have only known each other for just over a year. Without Mother Nature enforcing her power over Christchurch that day, we never would have met.
Friendships are built on the foundations of trust, honesty, and communication. Usually there is a bit of commonality thrown in there as well for good measure… Friendships provide you with support, and a supportive relationship with people is the only way to live.