These lovely ladies are Martha and Kathi. They are friends who are also writers, and we try to meet once a month or so to talk about the business. NOT necessarily the business of publishing (although we talk about that, too), but the business of writing: how it fascinates us, why we feel compelled to do it, how it frustrates us.
Writers are told all sorts of things in the advice books: write what you know; follow your inner compass; write something every day; write for yourself; write for your audience; write for the trends; don't take anyone else's advice. Naturally, this plethora of information can be quicksand to the poor writer who struggles alone in a home office and has never made (or understood) the New York scene.
What helps the individual, inexperienced writer the most, I think, is the friend who shares the questions. Kathi and Martha and I can easily fill two hours just sharing ideas, experiences, and yes--truly heartfelt questions about why a query didn't work or why a manuscript deemed perfect by a discerning and critical writers' group was rejected again and again. We celebrate successes (Kathi's poetic debut novel and Martha's upcoming intensive conference to polish a truly brilliant book), and we dissect failures. We offer unlimited support of the "I've been there" variety. We have forged friendships that are rooted in the experience of writing.We take a morning every month to share breakfast, but more importantly to offer hope, which is the most efficient fuel to any writer. Without hope we lose our energy; with it we become farmers of an entire crop of ideas.
I'm grateful to these women for helping to keep my writer's mind intact. They've been with me since my first book was accepted for publication, and just as I know that the next time I have a booksigning they will be there, they are just as certain that my face will be in the audience when their blockbusters reach the shelves.