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A writer’s life – How much of a friend or foe are your fellow writers?

Hi everyone,

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
Xx
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.
Xx
Writer Gal aka Aarti V Raman

Chat with me @RT_writes. I’m happy to hear from you!

 

15 Comments

  1. Inderpreet Kaur
    June 23, 2015 - 5:18 am · Reply

    Aarti, that is the unvarnished truth. It holds quite true for bloggers too. Except the 2am brainstorming part. I think it is just trying to glean new ideas that puts friendship at a back burner.
    I like how you put it across.
    Hope to read about the new guy soon. ;)

    Thanks for this Shilpa

    • Aarti V Raman
      June 24, 2015 - 2:43 pm · Reply

      Hey Inderpreet,
      I wish the 2 AM brainstorming happened a lot more than it does. It’s quite ok to glean new ideas. I am all for it. And as for the hot guy…that’s not for online conversation.

  2. saikumar
    June 24, 2015 - 6:53 am · Reply

    I am a wanna be writer. Having written a few short stories. I joined a couple of writers groups. An year into it, I started having this nagging doubts about certain aspects. Well I would say you confirmed some of them. My observations
    1) yes this this pack syndrome is a reality.
    2) Of the total number in the group only a very tiny percent of them are active, some of them like seasonal plants bloom and flower profusely during certain months of the year till next spring come.
    2) The alpha’s often feel below their dignity to bother with giving comments or a cursory like. Probably having published a couple of books gives them an air of having arrived.
    3) The Betas give their expert comments ( mainly grammar Nazis), with generic advises as to how it could be done better, tighter etc( that’s really vague)., and tend to actually have similar grammatical errors.
    4) Some Gammas(newbies) within an year become experts and tend to give same comments which they initially received.
    5) some jokers( I come in that category), end up making flippant comments, as they tend to see humor in every thing, and often get mauled for it.
    In spite of some of my grouses I still stick to the groups as occasionally some writers do post articles worth wile and also some really useful links.
    Lastly I rally admire the admins who I feel are genuine and keep the flock together.

    • Aarti V Raman
      June 24, 2015 - 2:45 pm · Reply

      Hello Sai,
      Am glad you’re pursuing something you want to do. All the best. Observations should never come in the way of doing what you want and if someone is supplying you with resources, go for it.

  3. Aarti V Raman
    June 24, 2015 - 2:46 pm · Reply

    I forgot to do something when I wrote this post. I forgot to thank my host for having me over. (See, my etiquette suffers even now!) So, thanks Shilpa for having me over. Can’t wait to see what you come up with.
    Xx
    Writer Gal aka Aarti V Raman

  4. Jaibala Rao
    June 24, 2015 - 3:03 pm · Reply

    Ha Aarti with minimal smileys is the one I refuse to know. You My dear, are cherished, even if I do not come online enough to say that. I love the way you described the dynamics in the Writing Circle, Clique, Pack to the T.

  5. Nikita (Njkinny)
    June 24, 2015 - 3:22 pm · Reply

    Loved hearing the hard truth and really this made me feel like I am not the only one who has had such experiences. I am glad that people all around me are facing the same dilemmas and learning similar lessons. Keep writing, I loved your previous story and eagerly waiting for the next one.

    All the best!

  6. Ruchi Singh
    June 25, 2015 - 3:40 pm · Reply

    Great post Aarti. Thanks Shilpa.
    After two decades of corporate life which helped me toughen my emotional soul, I have realized that you need a tough hide in all the fields and just a couple of 2 am friends.
    Just go with whatever you are confortable with, to hell with the rest. Enjoy and have fun!!

    • Aarti V Raman
      June 26, 2015 - 5:14 am · Reply

      Hey Ruchi,

      Call me naive, but I always thought writers were a little more awesome than that :P (Writer’s Pride unite) But you’re right. Having fun, with 2 AM friends is the best. We all just need a couple of those.

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