Friendship. People toss that word around as though it was a simple concept. But friends are precious gifts we don't always appreciate until they're there holding us up when we falter.
I'm pretty even tempered. I rarely run off the rails. Don't usually get depressed or ticked off or irritated. But something happened to me last summer that robbed me of my self confidence. It leveled me in such a way that I spent months second guessing every word I've written.
There are days when every writer reads what they've written and thinks, "What was I thinking?" Those days are normal in the life of a writer when they naturally occur sporadically. But when they hit day after day after day they paralyze the writing process so that it crawls and eventually ceases altogether.
It is a tribute to my friends that this didn't happen to me. Every time I seemed to falter, they grabbed me by the suspenders and jerked me back on my feet. They dusted me down. They patted me on the shoulder. They yelled and cajoled and commiserated until I was back on an even keel.
Professional insecurity is a difficult thing to live with. Because writing is such a solitary calling, it's next to impossible to receive the positive feedback we so desperately need--unless our friends deliver it. They're the ones who know the stages we're struggling with. They're the ones who grasp the significance of too many days spent on busy work and not enough days spent writing.
They're the ones you trust enough to hand them your manuscript, knowing, KNOWING they'll tell you if it sucks hairy eyeballs. And when they tell you that, they'll also tell you exactly why.
Yesterday I had a meltdown. Not one related to my private life, but one that centered around my professional capabilities. Oh, woe is me. I'll never be successful. I'll never sell another book. Yada, yada, yada.
Heh. That's when every encouraging word I've ever uttered in the last three years was flung back at me full force. Using my REAL name. That's playing dirty. My private life is separate from my professional life. So in this case they were letting me know there was no place to hide. No creeping away to suck my thumb in the closet. Sigh.
It's good to have friends, isn't it?
They saved my life. Someday, I'll return the favor. That's the way friendship works.