Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Face Time: Coffee Talk with Robert

I started writing seriously when Robert, a friend whom I greatly admired, suggested that we meet (in person) to talk writing. I had been writing a novel for a number of years, but not with an eye towards publication. When we began meeting weekly was when I began writing. Really writing. I was no longer a stay-at-home mom writing in solitary. I had an audience. I was a writer.

But I was a writer with a really pathetic first novel. I will always be indebted to Robert that he took me on, even though there wasn’t much skill or talent in that first novel. I am so grateful that he saw a spark there and that he stuck with me.

I didn’t realize how lucky I was until a year later, when I connected with other writers on-line. 

You mean, not ever writer has someone who builds them up, while respectfully pointing out the flaws in their writing? Hugs and loving friendship wasn’t a part of every writer’s experience? Coffee, laughs, and three act plot arcs? No? Robert and I loved discussing characterization and voice over our steaming tea pots.

During those meetings, Robert taught me how to be a gracious critter—something I am still aspiring to be. No matter how many problems we discussed in my writing, I always left our meetings revved up to get to the next level. He always made me feel as though I could get to that next level. And since our friendship was as deep as our writing partnership, our support for each other extended into our personal lives, our marriages and families. 

Robert set the standard for me with writing relationships. Ours was a respectful, mutually beneficial relationship, with a goal of building up not only the writer, but the career, and the life beyond the writing. It is because my first face time experience was so amazing that I continue to seek out face time with other writers. 

Thank you Robert, for helping me to see my own talent, and thank you for holding my writing career in your capable hands when I lacked the self-confidence to do so on my own. Thank you for propelling me into the writing world, and for giving me the vision to dream of my own career. Thank you for giving me the blueprint for a healthy writing relationship. I only hope that I have given you a fraction of what you have, and continue, to give to me.

To everyone else--do you have a face time mentor? Have you had your share of healthy writing relationships? Have you had some less than healthy ones? And, if you haven't had a supportive crit person in your life, please feel free to email me. Send me some stuff. I'd love to be a part of your circle of support.


  1. my cp & i met online and will likely stay that way. even though we're both on the east coast, we're far enough away to never even consider meeting irl.

    it's great that you and robert were able to do so. having a face -- and facial gestures and intonations -- to go along with the written words can reveal all sorts of layers of extra understanding.

    -- Tom

  2. Heather, THANK YOU for being who you are - a great friend with a great heart, a fantastic writer with a fantastic vision, a phenomenal mom... the list goes on...

    Very specifically, thank you for believing in ROMEO, ROMEO and LUCKY and for pushing me to get on with my unnamed middle-grade novel that has dragons. Thank you for the music you've given me to write by and the cool, entwined bamboo with a little plastic dragon.

    Thank you for making me promise that I'd start blogging.

    And check this out... how great a friend is it who helps research agents?

    Heather, your remarkable heart is amazing to be around. You've redefined what a crit partner can be.

  3. I have a group I meet with in person and it's so helpful because you can really talk about the critique and bounce ideas off each other. I also have an awesome critiquer that I share online critiques with. We're starting to meet for lunch once in awhile.

  4. What a lovely post! You and Robert are very lucky! I've got a [mostly] online crit group, but we "chat" online once a week, so that's our "face" time. It helps to get to know your CPs personally!

  5. *grinning while reading*

    Oh so great!!!

    I was a lonely little writer for so long... so much better with a friend!! And even better with LOTS of friends! :)

  6. What a beautiful post, Heather. It says so much about your strength of character and self-confidence that you can give praise where praise is due. So many these days can't do that.

    My cp is a long-time friend who knows I like bottom-line suggestions, no sugary stuff that hides what might offend.

    Sorry I've been away for a bit but my house has been a 'hospital' with one bug after another visiting. *dreams of spring*

  7. What a special post, Heather.
    I have a local group that is dwindling as 2/4 moved away and I am moving next! But they have been supportive. And I am always amazed at how helpful & supportive the online writing community is too!

  8. What a wonderful tribute! It is so essential having someone caring whether you are writing or not. I have you and the folks at TPR and some face to face people as well. I am very fortunate.

  9. Tom--It's wonderful that you are close with your crit partner. Maybe someday you will be able to meet...

    Robert--*blushing* I'm just so happy you are in my writing life!

    Natalie--It sounds like a great mixture of both worlds!

    Kris--Chatting is such a great way to get that face time--like coworkers at an office, but the office is online... And your group sounds so supportive!

    Marisa--I'm so glad that you are now surrounded by writer friends--it makes all the difference, I think!

    Kittie--I hope everyone in your life is well, and that spring is just around the corner. I like the sound of your cp. I too appreciate the bottom line. It sounds like you two have a great working relationship!

    Kelly--I hope you find another in person group when you move, but isn't it nice that you have your online support intact through it all?!

    Tina--you have a great balance, as usual!! And great supports!

  10. I wanna find an in-person person :(.