Talking about business, and of course the publishing business more specifically, with a few authors the other day and over the course of the discussion one thing we unanimously agreed on (we rarely unanimously agree on anything) is that you have to have good friends you can trust in this business.
It’s not just about who you can trust to keep your secrets, not just about who will genuinely celebrate your successes rather than being secretly jealous and trying to sabatoge those successes, not just about who will truly care and mourn with you when that rejection, hard edit or poor sales numbers come in, and not just about who will recognize that even some small achievements are huge, but it’s also about who you can trust to tell you not what you want to hear but what you should hear. You know, the friends who will shove the unpleasant truths in your face and say “suck it up and deal and then…fix it!”
I think it’s easy for friends to be cheerleaders and to pat you on the back and tell you you’re right, you’re doing a good job or that your editor is obviously a nutjob and the book you wrote in all verse is really the most brilliant thing EVAH.
But it’s harder to be, well, honest–sometimes blunt. And it’s those friends who can do that with you, while still being your friend and your cheerleader and your confidant, that are the true treasures. They’re the hardest to find but they’re the people worth fighting for and hanging on to. We all need those people in our lives who will tell us when we’ve screwed up, will give advice on how to fix it and will remind us how things turned out if we start heading in that direction again.
So next time your friend tells you a hard hometruth you really didn’t want to hear, once you’re done calling them names in your head, take a minute to be grateful that they told you at all, because they are the true friends. The ones who suck up the pain that comes with being honest and tell you what they’re really thinking, sharing the pain of realizing you’re not right this time, rather than watching you fall on your face and deal with the pain on your own, while offering easier words of comfort.