The Doctor and The Mate – Friends Every Writer Needs

Photo on 2013-01-10 at 23.51

I’ve just come back from the emergency ward/A&E, and since I’m pumped up full of steroids, I thought I’d share an insight about the writing life I had while I was there.

I have a health condition that I manage by basically ignoring it as much as I can. And that works until once every ten years or so, when it stops working and I need someone with a very specific and acute understanding of throats. And by that time, I need them quite quickly.

And then they do their thing and I’m okay again, which is where we came into the story.

It’s a lot like my new MA student. He is writing a certain kind of book (and if it’s as good as I think it’s going to be, I’ll be telling you about it later). It’s a very specific kind of book, a kind of book not all my colleagues like or read. In an hour together today, we saved his book’s life. It’s going to grow up to be a really brilliant story now.

I was his book’s throat doctor. I knew all the ins and outs of what had happened to it and what we needed to do to get it going again.  And we need people like that, in our writing lives. We need folks who give it to us straight, who say: Take This Particular Steroid Or You Might Die.

But we also need people like my great mate, who has been in and out of a few emergency rooms and specialist wards in her own life. People who will come get you and drive you to the hospital. People who will walk beside you and hold your hand. People who know absolutely nothing about your book (and perhaps won’t even like it or read it) but people who know about you.

People who, when you are saying, ‘I don’t want to take another steroid. That’s three today,’ say, ‘I think you better go ahead and take it. You’re upsetting the doctor.’ People who drive you to McDonalds on the way home and give you a hug once you’re there.

Your book has to work in order to survive. But you have to survive, too.  Sometimes you need to hear the tough advice. Sometimes you just need to hear that someone is behind you, caring that you achieve your dreams.

MS

Hospital High, Blazing

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