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An Ode to Writer Friends

June 27, 2013 by Kiersi

"Sunday means get together" by Yassin Hassan

“Sunday means get together” by Yassin Hassan (flickr)

Today’s post is going to be a fluffy one. I know, I know, it’s not my usual shtick, but I have a lot to be grateful for (and a lot, lot, lot of non-authoring work that has taken over my waking hours).

This post is about friends.

When I was nine or ten, I started actively chatting with people online. I know what you’re thinking: “What parents would let their ten-year-old daughter chat online?” But this was a different era. This was 1997 or so; there was no such thing as a cyber predator back then, not just yet. Besides, I was a smart kid, and my parents trusted me. I was building bad HTML websites and writing stories and role-playing with my friends. It was a good thing for a brainy child who didn’t have many friends at school.

I used IceChat, one of the first Java-based chat clients, and later AOL Instant Messenger. I frequented forums that boasted large, yet tight-knit communities of nerds. I felt at home online. I even met people online who later, through parents exchanging phone calls, I met in real life. We stayed friends for many years.

So, safe to say, making friends online is as natural to me as making friends at work is for most other people my age.

And now that I’m a writer–boy, am I glad to have this ability.

I firmly believe that having writers for friends is the only way to stay sane in this profession. Writing books is a solitary job, even if they are fun, kid-centric books. Any freelancer who works from home can identify with the sensation of sometimes being too solitary, even if you are the kind of person that prefers being alone; sometimes, the alone-ness becomes too much.

I think this is why other writers reproduce. And have dogs.

These days, I have many writer friends both in person and online; but almost all the writer friends I have in person I originally met online. Twitter is a pretty powerful tool for this, and so are Facebook groups. It’s easy to find the people out in the world who do the same things you do, and enjoy the same things that you enjoy; and, with a little extra effort, it’s not that hard to become real friends when you click with someone. Start conversations outside of Twitter or Facebook. Have in-person meetups when you happen to be at the same conference at the same time. (Always be safe about it and meet in public until you get to know each other!)

I’m particularly lucky because I live in Portland: this city is a haven for writers. I know at least eight people in person that write middle-grade or young adult. Not just hobby writers, but serious writers, with agents and book deals and books already published.

And I am so grateful for them. They are the most intelligent, supportive, hilarious and fascinating people I know.

Like I said, working as a writer and working from home is a solitary business; social people like me don’t always get on well in that kind of environment. So getting out of the house is an essential step one; actually interacting with other people is step two.

So I co-work. I meet with friends at coffee shops or each other’s houses and just work. This is the part I miss most about an office: just having other people around. If you get snagged, you can pop your head up and say, “What do you think of this?” Or, as is most common for me, “I don’t know what word to use here. Help!” We critique each other, support each other, encourage each other.

I should definitely mention people like my friend Eddy (who I met 11 years ago through an online forum), or my friend Lauren, who is now a valued critique partner of mine–and who I know exclusively online. We occasionally get to meet in person, but our support network exists purely through Google Chat and Twitter. And yet, I couldn’t get by without them.

An ode to friends: the fellow writers who make my life more meaningful, who give me great advice; people like my friend Whitney, who knows me so well she says, “You’re going to go crazy if you go back to the beginning. Keep working from the middle. Make progress. You’ll feel better.”

So true. I’m so glad I have all of you. I would definitely go crazy if I had to go on this journey alone.


10 Comments »

  1. I love the people I’ve met online, including you Kiersi. The writing community is so supportive. 🙂

    • Kiersi says:

      Isn’t it?! I just love being a part of it! Especially She Writes, where I met you–so many great people.

  2. beverlydiehl says:

    My first writer friends I made in person, through a local writers’ group, a mix of screenwriters and novelists and a handful of short story people. But then, I’m in the LA area; big pond, with a lot of fish.

    Over the last few years, I’ve met writers online and then come to develop an in-person relationship with many of them, and I love my writer-friends, even the ones I haven’t met yet. 🙂

    • Kiersi says:

      Oooh, LA! You ARE lucky. Local writers’ groups are wonderful. A good way to stay on track and connect with other people in the trenches.

  3. I just had my first meeting-of-an-online-friend — so fun, especially to see that we could just pick up where we’d left off online. You say you’re from Portland–there’s a group of women writers called PDXX Collective (I write for them sometimes) that you should check out: http://pdxxcollective.com/

    • Kiersi says:

      Whoa! How did I not know this exists?! Thanks, Jessica! That’s so cool that you write for them. Do you live in the area? (You may not get this comment so one of these days I will just email you and ask. HOW ABOUT THAT MODERN WORLD.)

  4. Reading your blog from Nairobi, Kenya, and just wanted to say how much I appreciate your subject matter, your insights and reflections, and your frequent references to your childhood…makes me feel real warm and fuzzy.

    • Kiersi says:

      Aw! Thanks for stopping by and reading from Nairobi!! <3 I had a great childhood thanks to SOMEONE. 🙂

  5. Writerlious says:

    What an awesome post. It can’t be overstated how important writers are to other writers. There are times I only keep my sanity by chatting with other writers that know what I’m going through.

    So glad we met online! 🙂

  6. jillhaugh says:

    Great post, and I also liked your post for YA Stands. Good advice on many levels. I love my online friends though I worry sometimes they are all in my head!
    ~Just Jill

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