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You've got to have friends

Updated: Aug 28, 2020

It’s been a while. My last post was seven months ago.  After an absence of that long, it’s embarrassing to post again. But a couple of things have made me grit my teeth and hit the keyboard again.

The first was a lovely comment from Carmelita D Brooker (@Evadene2016 on Twitter) who said: 'Enjoying the blogs on your site, Sara.'

The second was a blog on stage fright for writers from the wonderful Stella Duffy. If Stella Duffy, with 17 novels to her name, suffers from stage fright before writing a new one, I think I'm at least in good company.

Like many writers, I often doubt that my writing has merit. I find that writing a blog multiplies this.  It's something about the need to be punchy, smart, for there to be a pay-off in less than 300 words, when my natural style is a bit more...relaxed.

In a bit of a tweet exchange, where I said I wasn't sure my blogs were sufficiently interesting, Stella urged me to do it anyway:

It's impossible to know that though, right? If you concentrate on how interesting it is for YOU, then at least you've pleased one person! With any luck the rest will follow.

As a result, this blog is about support, and how it often comes from the most distant of places. For example, while my family loves me and is (generally) supportive, they see my writing as simply a hobby - not something that is really important to me. Their feedback on my first book has been lukewarm at best, dismissive at worst. My mother decided she's wait until the book was on the shelves before reading it. This was despite me saying that I'd probably self-publish and that an actual physical book is highly unlikely.

One of my friends gave me 'feedback' on an early draft without - I discovered - having read it all the way through. Others have said it wasn't 'their kind of book'. I do understand this. As one Twitter posting put it, 'You can make the best cup of coffee in the world and some people will always prefer tea.'

Therefore it comes as a rather emotional surprise when people who have only the slightest connection to you, come out with flags waving and words of comfort and encouragement.

Writers understand the trials of other writers. My good friend Jess Ryder who has a string of thrillers to her name, has been incredibly supportive and generous with time and advice. I find support on author groups too; I recently posted a note to say I'd completed another chapter of book two and within minutes there were comments and congratulations.

I've discovered that writers, regardless of how famous, published or not; writers of romance, thrillers, literary fiction, even some genres I'd never heard of until I saw their postings; they understand my triumphs, however tiny they sound to my family and friends who have escaped the writing bug. They also understand the fears, the unhelpful comparisons, the sense of being not-quite-legitimate.

So to all the writers, the would-be writers, the writers who also work another job, the stumbling, the revising, the editing and pitching writers, the writers helping other writers - thank you for your support.

Now I'm off to finish another chapter and practise my own flag waving skills.

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