Friday, 23 November 2007

Evolution of a friendship?

Heather Sellers, in Page After Page, writes that sometimes when you move from unpublished to published, when your writing ambitions begin to come to fruition, you lose some friends. I'm still very much a neophyte in this business, but I'm beginning to wonder if she's on to something there.

I just told an old friend that my first novel has sold. We've been friends for more than 25 years, and he knew about this book, this writing dream, from the start - which is saying a lot. Well, I told him, happy that at last I had good news to share, and I waited for the congratulations. They never came. No, "Good for you!" No "I'm so happy!" Nothing of the sort.

What he did was launch immediately, immediately, into an impassioned rant about all these 'big companies' that feel they have the right to pass judgement on what is good and what isn't, who's beautiful and who's not, who should be a top model and who should be kicked off the show. He didn't say "who should be published and who shouldn't," but I sort of guessed that was his point.

Huh? What does that have to do with my little bit of good news? I listened, dumbfounded, waited for him to get to the point of his diatribe, to say something nice to his oldest, truest friend (so he says). He never explained the point of that outburst, and the nice words never came.

I must be missing something here.


Fiona said...

Has he written a novel - spent hours and hours editing it with no promise of dosh at the end?

I am sad for you because this should be such a cause for celebration - with your friends.

Well I am raising my glass of reasonably priced (horrible), red wine to you. Well done. You deserve it. Enjoy it.

Matt said...

that's very sad indeed. on the other hand, we're celebrating with you.

wordtryst said...

Hi, fiona, welcome to the blog. All Novel Racers welcome!

Matt, it is indeed sad, but I'm determined to focus on the positives these days - like the friends, including you and my other blog buddies, who are so kind and supportive.

Let's break out that bottle of red...

kim said...


It freaks me out how many people get freaked out by success. People think they are for it, but when someone around them goes for it, many seem to have some preconceived ideas about what you can be successful at and how to go about it.

To that set we shall say, in the words of Bart Simpson, "Eat my dust, dust eaters."

wordtryst said...

Kim, you are so right. It hurts to think that friends can be like that, though. Acquaintances, yeah, but friends are supposed to be happy for each other when something good happens.

I'm still trying to convince myself that I misinterpreted my friend's reaction, but I recall a remark he made about success and failure a year or so ago that really upset me, and it fits this picture that's evolving. It's just sad.

aka_lol said...

On a forum, just over a year ago, I asked a recently-published author this question:

aka_lol: I read somewhere about author-envy where some authors, or rivals post unfavorable reviews under pseudonyms in author’s blogs and sometimes even in the press.

author:Boy, this is one hell of a nasty business. i wrote something in the Dutch national press critical of the Dutch literary establishment, and some "Young Turk" write about me in his blog. i wrote him a friendly, jokey note back, and he write one pack of nastiness about me in his blog about how I so stuck up and so on. I wrote him and told him his opinion of me personally is not interesting, but he can read my book and write about it if he likes. Next thing I get an invitation to go out with him. I said, sure, but then i got nervous that he might use that meeting to write more personal things about me and made an excuse and cancelled.
You guys wouldn't believe the envy I have to face over here in Holland. The Dutch literary market is tiny because it is a small language, so they vex because i get access to the big wide world because I write in English.

KeVin K. said...

Sounds like a wana-be writer who takes rejections of his work as rejection of him as a person. I was a member of a writing group that was wonderfully supportive until I made my first sale. I was the first to sell. They at least had the grace to congratulate me at the time, but within a matter of months I was out. Somehow my getting published became something hurtful I'd done to them. It's a very commone phenomenon -- I have no idea why or how it works.

wordtryst said...

aka_lol, this business does have its nasty side, I'm learning. Such a pity. Don't people have anything better to do? And haven't they heard about karma, otherwise known as 'you reap what you sow'?

Kevin, these petty jealousies are so trying... and so unnecessary. Thank goodness there's the other side of the coin - all those wonderful writers who spend their time and resources trying to help other writers.