by Jennifer Young
Friends. Don’tcha just love ‘em? Well, of course you do. That’s why they’re your friends.
Many years ago a friend of mine told me of a conversation she’d had with her writing tutor. On hearing that the friend’s husband was also a writer, the tutor cautioned her against seeking his advice. “He won’t be honest with you. Writers never are. They’re jealous.”
I thought at the time that this was unfair. (Well, all right. I thought at the time that this was downright outrageous.) I have many writing friends — in fact, I suspect most of my friends are either writers or aspiring writers, which some people may find rather sad. And without those friends I wouldn’t be the writer I am, or the person I am.
There has long been a perception around that writers are obsessive about their precious turn of phrase and resentful of the success of others, as if there’s a limited number of books that can be published or words that can be written, of characters that can be produced and plots that can be twisted. She has a book published - dammit. That’s one less slot for me.
In all my time I’ve never found a fellow writer who wasn’t interested and supportive. Admittedly some have been less supportive than others but maybe they had other reasons for that. But I’ve never met a writer who set out to undermine or obstruct another. I’ve come across this kind of behaviour elsewhere but never among the fellowship of scribblers.
Writers, in my experience, seek out other writers. They ask them for advice, the give advice in return. They buy one another’s books, they read one another’s books, they promote one another’s books. And while I can’t rule out that some may do it in the hope of getting the same support back when they need it, I honestly believe that they take pleasure in one another’s success.
That’s why I’m going to talk about another author. Years ago I sat at school with a friend. We passed notes under the desk, as everyone did, but our notes were alternative paragraphs in a story, a collaborative, rambling effort which went on for years and which we called ‘The Epic’. I still have some of it.
Needless to say we both wanted to be writers.
This week my friend had her first book published and I’m as proud as if it was my own. So I thought I’d put my money where my mouth is and support a debut novelist. Stand up Emily Ross and take a bow. Emily’s debut, A Necessary Risk, a historical novel set in mediaeval Wales, is up and out there, ready for you to read. Take a look…