failing friends in the business

It's interesting to have people assume you've reached the peak of your career and are on the downhill slide. I'm talking about other people's perception. (When you feel that way, it's not interesting; it's just horrid.)

It's rather like watching others respond to your demise. You stop existing entirely. In case you're guessing, this is about me, btw, of course, naturally, as usual. I'll switch off the you now.

Anyway, some of the people I considered friends haven't got time for me and I completely understand it. I might be bitter, but that's not my only response (and the bitterness tends to set in when I'm feeling bad about me and my writing so I expect even then it's about me, not them so much.) I get it: It's a variation on the Pratchett thing: personal is different from important.

If you have only so much time in your day to interact with people, you want to talk to and email the ones who'll be of some benefit to your career, particularly when your career is writing, where public image is a big-ass important thing. (back to the you, but I ain't putting this part in first person, thanks) Spending energy on someone you perceive as a has-been doesn't give you career rewards in any sense and might even put you in the same slot. It could be contagious.

So anyway, I definitely understand the POV of the former friend. And there are no hard feelings. Really. No feelings at all, in fact, except when I'm lonely and depressed, which I'm not at the moment, thank you God.

I only occasionally fantasize about when I do get that big break, I see myself giving specific people the cut direct, the distant puzzled smile. I'm sorry, I know I've met you. What is your name again?

Naw, I won't do that. Not because of the whole business mentality of "don't diss anyone--it'll bite you in the butt." But because I can imagine I do the same thing. I don't see me doing it, but I bet I have.

I certainly see me gushing at people I think of as successful. I think it's genuine admiration on my part, but when does admiration end and brown-nosing start? And if those writers never sold another book, or those editors get fired, or those agents fold up shop, would I dismiss all the advice they'd given me in the past? Stop stopping by their blogs to see what's going on? I hope I wouldn't but eh. Who knows? I can't imagine dismissing people like PBW just because damn, they're funny and clever no matter what the Big World thinks of them. Gush, gush.

UPDATE. Oh, and to anyone reading this. I'm not talking about you, you silly person. (you're visiting, right? Bringing grapes** and flowers to the friend in the nursing home.)

**We don't do that here, but what is it with bringing grapes in Britain? I see that in novels all the time. Why grapes?


  1. Funny that this is what your blog is about. A friend of mine and myself have been having a similar discussion the past couple days. We've had a "friend" that has disappeared on us for about 7 months now. We were discussing that ya know, life is entirely to short to have this ... negative energy, these negative people in our lives. We are expecting a call from her soon (my friend already received hers)... this persons birthday is coming up as is Christmas, have to get presents for her kids ya know... We've decided that unless she has a darned good reason for disappearing, we'll be telling her that we just don't need a "friend" like that in our lives. Harsh... perhaps, but hey ~ when it continues to hurt you, or your kids, one has to draw a line right?

  2. I've had friends fade in and out of my life, and I've been hurt when they faded for a while, but then they often come back. Sometimes things happen and it REALLY isn't about you. I know shocker. :D (Cause that is where my brain always goes first too.)

  3. Anonymous9:20 AM

    Aw, Kate, you're the greatest writer I know. I stop by your blog often, and will continue to do so - even if my ship comes in.

  4. (((((Netti)))) because that's different. That's got to create real pain. The people I'm thinking of are more work pals. Yeah, some of them turn into real friends but there's always that work that goes with it so it's sort of less personal.

    Lori I have a few friends like that but I'm the one who's rotten about keeping track (hi Leslie!) It's the 3-year-old concrete vs abstract brain. What's in front of you is more than enough to keep the brain busy.

  5. The nice thing about posting this is now I'm thinking about all those people who hold on despite the ups and downs. You're just wonderful people. Thank you.

  6. Anonymous9:27 AM

    Umm...since you just had a new release a week more recently than I, does that mean I'm on a downhill slide, too? Maybe the anthology we have releasing in January is further proof we're sliding together?

    Whoever it is---screw her. It's her loss.

    (Unless, of course, it's me you're talking about. I hope not, but I'm known for being a little paranoid.)

    (This isn't a delayed reaction to the day you said hello at the NE conference and I ducked, is it? Because I already explained it wasn't that you said hello, it was that you bellowed it across the quiet room and I'm SHY, dammit. *g*)

  7. Kate - I have a certain friend who each year would send me an email ragging that I'd forgotten her birthday. So, I'd send an e-card, or whatever, to placate her. Once I even took her out to dinner because I was visiting in the town where she lives. What amuses me about this is that never once in the 8 years I've known her has she verified when MY birthday falls, so that she could reciprocate with a nice card or dinner! I'm not the type of person to email someone and say "Hey, Bee-yotch, you forgot my birthday!" Whatever. I guess I'm used to it after all these years, and since now I know her birthday is around June 13th, I just send a random card to keep her off my ass. :-) This past June is the first year that she didn't send me the gripe-y email, so I didn't send a card (is that mean? too bad...). What stings a bit more is that my birthday was just a couple of weeks ago, and one of my best friends who lives only 30 minutes away has forgotten my birthday for the 2nd year in a row. But do I send out hint emails or texts? No, because that's just not me. I know she'll call me up sometime in the next few weeks with apologies/reasons and take me out to dinner. :-) It's something to look forward to, I guess!


  8. Kate, I think there are some circles where it's all about looking popular and what's good for the career, which is pretty much like high school and I never did that crap even when I was IN high school.

    Then there are people who get you because you're a writer, and so are they, and you click. And it's not about the ups and downs, because if you have any sense at all, you KNOW going in that a career in this biz will have ups and downs. The secret is to find friends who share your views. : )

  9. Anonymous10:52 AM

    You think you leave high school behind when you're an adult, but that's not true. Cliques abound everywhere and at every age.

    A lot of it is fueled by low self esteem. People want success by association, just like in H.S. Hey look at me! I'm cool because I hang with *this* group.

    They don't realize they can just be cool in their own right.

    In high school I never paid attention to cliques and I don't now, either. My friends are the people I get along the best with, can talk know, they're *friends*. :)

    And sometimes friendships just fade away as a natural thing. Social circles change and so do the associations. But if you were really good friends before and aren't now...well, maybe it's for the best?

    Also, anyone who thinks they're successful in this business needs a reality check. You're only as successful as your last novel and it can collapse like a house of cards at any time. Better to find real friends and keep them close, ones that will stick with you through thick and thin.

    ~ Anya (who found this link through Twitter!)

  10. Anonymous10:53 AM

    There are times when this business really can make me cringe. It might be hard to watch your friends sell before you or more than you, or whatever, but I think I'm most weirded out by people who view other people as opportunities for advancement (or not). It's odd to me.

    Anyhoodle, I'm a friendly gal and all, but I don't give my heart to people very often and this is part of the reason. Getting it broken because someone you thought was a friend moved on to a "better" offer is not fun. But my true friends are around no matter who I sell to or how much I sell to.

  11. People that are only there for the champagne aren't worth the trouble.

    And always show themselves for who they are sooner or later.

    At the same time 'business' associates come and go. They might disappear for a bit of time because of life or whatever. Hell I often vanish just because I can't stand to be around me at the time and don't dislike anyone (currently) to inflect myself on them *g*.

    So you never know... sadly we live and we learn as we go

  12. huh. I touched a chord. I haven't gotten the high school vibe from it, but you all are probably right. It's probably that simple. Why wouldn't it be? Insecurities don't go away when you get older, they just get more sophisticated covers.

    and now I'm snickering at shannon. (That's always fun.)

  13. This is why I drop by this blog all the time, Kate. Cos you just write these great honest posts.

    This post totally makes me *heart* you.

    We DO take grapes to hospital. I really don't know why. Maybe because it's something you can eat lackadaisically while being patronised by nurses?

  14. Grapes and flowers I can do, but I'd much rather bring fudge and frappacinos. If we're going to sin, we must sin big. I'm slowly working my way through the second season of Rome, so I'd probably bring that along too, and make you watch and listen to me sigh with characterizational bliss whenever Titus and Lucius are onscreen.

    As for my blog, I'll always be happy to see you there, no matter how much wattage my little author star generates. And if you stop visiting, you stop, and that's fine, too. Friends are gifts, and should be treated as such.

  15. Anonymous10:27 PM

    Aw, quit yer whining. Maybe that's whay I dropped you.

  16. Aww Tumperkin, thanks.

    Lynne, Don't know the series but I'm there with popcorn.

    Anon, here you are, so you didn't stop reading entirely. Feel free to stop--or stay. I don't mind.

    I honestly don't think it's whining, more an observation. Whining is more fun or at least more emooooootional.

  17. Anonymous12:55 PM

    Kate -- I think some also fall out of touch a little sometimes because they might be having a rough go of things, and are really doing their best not to bring others down, or perhaps be thought of as being too depressed, or somethin'.

    Dunno. Just a thought.

    (also paranoid about being "you", 'cause, hey, that just comes with the territory... and the horrid, horrid memories of elementary and high school... :P )

  18. "particularly when your career is writing, where public image is a big-ass important thing"

    And that's what I totally don't get about this writing business. Why in the hell do people care about the writers themselves rather than WHAT they write? What's with all this needing to be a familiar face, an approachable figure, a pal to the readers? I simply don't get it. I didn't sign on to be a politician and when I read novels I'm not remotely interested in the author's personal life. Just the story.


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