As promised, a very special guest post by Aarti V Raman, the author of the bestselling novel Kingdom Come. Here’s her take on fellow writers….
I am going to begin this blog with a Meredith-Grey style voiceover.
Writers are a lot like wolves. Some of them like to hunt in packs, form a hierarchy and stick to it (Facebook Groups, Critique Partners etc.,), while others prefer going it solo. There is an Alpha, a Beta, an Omega, and a few other pack mates in between. Some writers mate for life, we call them co-writers, while still others fall by the wayside, when other, more powerful writers tear down the weakest link until he/she is forced in shame to quit or find a new group.
But, all writers at heart are hunters. Predators who want the best game in town for themselves. We call this game: Sales, market share. Bestseller status.
So, today I try and answer an important question: How much of a friend can your fellow writer, your competitor be?
I am a lone wolf writer. I don’t discuss much of my writing in a group, I brainstorm mostly by myself. Ok, that’s not true. I nag my mother into sitting down with me and listening to me prattle on for hours on end while I figure out how the hero kills the villain (it’s with a M16 he finds hidden in the Sunderban jungle left by Maoist rebels whom he shot dead while rescuing the heroine, Rambo-style). And, more recently, my editor Vince (name changed to protect absolutely nothing) who tells me I am a neurotic woman who needs to chill.
But, props to Vince, he ALWAYS answers my texts. Even at 2 AM in the morning.
But, even I, lone wolf that I masquerade as, need friends, friends in the industry, who are going through what I am going through when I say I can’t WRITE. Friends who understand my tribulations, who sympathize and are there for me to cheer me on over the finish line, which seems so far away almost every day I work on a new draft. These people, I tentatively call friends.
I return the favour too. I talk, I listen, I empathise, and sometimes a bit of tough love goes a long way in helping a fellow writer remember their dreams. I am there for them, in times of professional crisis, and, sometimes, personal ones.
But, are all writers on the same level of friendship and openness as these chosen few?
I used to think so, naïve lamb that I was.
I thought all the writers-bloggers-reviewers who befriended me on Facebook, Twitter and sometimes even in person, were my friends, well-wishers. People who were genuinely interested in my craft, in my work as much as I was in theirs. Little did I know of the fragile egos and even fragile idiosyncracies of the writers I was acquainted with. Little did I know of how much not replying to a Facebook comment, OR replying too late to a blog post, or a book review was a social faux pas that would be almost fatal to my fledgling career.
I didn’t know people cared so much about being talked to.
Granted, it is the polite thing to do, and I was taught a valuable lesson in maintaining business relations but it did make me change the way I viewed my “friends”.
And the level of anxiety displayed by writers when it comes to climbing bestseller lists or dissing a reviewer who gave them a bad review is unprecedented and sometimes comedic.
After a couple more disastrous scenarios, (which, for libel reasons I cannot get into) I realized that being professional is more important in a writer’s career than being a friend to everyone. So, now I answer all emails politely, I talk to everyone who PMs me on Facebook and Twitter and keep the smileys to a minimum. It works.
No offence, is after all, the best defence.
And do not even get me started on Publishers – They pretend to be your friend, but are they really?
Till next time
Writer Gal aka Aarti V Raman
PS: The writer whose blog I am contributing to, is a close, personal friend of mine. The one I call up at 2 AM to talk about a plot line, or a hot guy, or a bad dream. She doesn’t count as a writer friend. At ALL.
Writer Gal aka Aarti V Raman
Chat with me @RT_writes. I’m happy to hear from you!