I’d like to start by saying how sorry I am for not answering comments on last week’s post in a more timely fashion. I have no excuse. I’m a loser. Ask anybody.
Actually, what I am is a creature of habit, and I haven’t yet incorporated the habit of checking Tales for comments after I post.
But I promise to try to do better from now on.
ANYway. Both of the following email exchanges have been cleansed of bad language and iffy grammar, and made more generally palatable for public consumption. Rest assured the spirit of both conversations remains true.
Me: So… it’s been over a week. I’m dying out here with nothing to read. Wordage?
Her (otherwise known as the brilliant and fabulously stylish Barbara Caridad Ferrer): Shut up.
Her: I wrote a scene. It sucks. The dialogue is wrong. There’s too much introspection and info dump. Nothing happens. It’s all worthless. What am I doing? I can’t write this book. Why did I ever think I could write this book??
Me: Because you’ve written and sold three other books, one of which won the RITA and several other important awards? You know… just off the top of my head.
Her: That was then. This is different.
Me: I’m sure it’s fine. But I can’t tell for certain until I read it.
Her: You’ll just lie to me.
Me: That’s true. I’m universally known for my utter inability to give an honest critique. It’s my greatest failing. But send the file anyway. You know you want to.
Her: You’re mocking me, aren’t you?
Me: A little bit, yeah.
Her: *grumbles, sends file*
*** the following day ***
Her: Okay, your turn.
Her: You haven’t sent me anything in literally weeks. You’re not writing?
Me: A little. But it’s bad. It’s not ready. It needs… more. Or less. Plus, I think it’s in the wrong POV.
Her: Send it.
Me: Maybe later.
Her: SEND. IT.
Me: Make me.
Her: You think I won’t? You think I won’t fly up there and thwack you senseless? Bertha (her infamous baseball bat o’ doom) fits in an overhead compartment, you know.
Me: Yeah, I’m trembling in fear over here.
Her: You should be. Send the damned file.
Me: *grumbles, sends file*
Why do we do this to each other? More to the point, why do we do it to ourselves? It’s a ritual we’ve perfected over our several years’ worth of friendship and crit partnership. Almost a full decade, in fact. Barbara critiqued my Buffy/Spike fanfiction, for Joss’s sake.
We attended our first Romantic Times convention together. We joined RWA together. I held her hand through her first agent search, and she held mine as I explored this new “epublishing” thing.
We’ve only laid eyes on each other once, back in 2003, but ask me about her children — go ahead, ask me. Or let me tell you about her childhood as the daughter of Cuban immigrants. Or I could give you a few pages on her experiences as a competitive ice skater, a musician, and a teacher.
My point? We KNOW each other. We know each other in a way that allows affectionate abuse and brutal honesty — sometimes in the same sentence. I trust her to tell me when my character’s behavior makes no ever-lovin’ sense in the context of a scene, and I know she trusts me to let her know when she’s over-thinking that five lines of dialogue from two chapters ago. AGAIN. Some MORE, even.
As we prepare to give thanks, my wish for all writers everywhere is the gift of such a partnership. It’s been invaluable to me. I have no doubt that without it, I’d have thrown in the towel years ago.
I’m very, very grateful.
And now I need to brine the turkey. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours! 🙂