Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Don’t be afraid to be a fan

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I emailed a writer I’d seen speak at a writing conference to tell her how much I’d enjoyed her presentation. Thankfully that writer wrote back, we met at a local diner, and an amazing friendship was born.

Why am I sharing this?

Because without her, there would be no Hitwoman books.

She was the person who, while we sat in a cafe, cared enough to tell  me I should write using “that voice” (my snarky one) instead of writing the dark stuff I was working on at the time.

That one sentence changed the path of my writing, even my life, and I’ll be forever indebted to her for caring enough to utter a truth I may not have even wanted to hear.

And to think, if I hadn’t reached out to her after the conference, we never would have met.

I learned this lesson about not being afraid to tell someone you like their work about twenty years ago, from someone who is now one of my best friends.

We were both taking a Creative Writing class for adults at a high school. She ran after me across a dark parking lot (we still joke about the fact she’s lucky I didn’t do her physical harm in the name of protecting myself) to tell me how much she’d enjoyed the sample of my work I’d read aloud.

Now that I know her, I love her dearly, but back then I wouldn’t have spoken to her if she hadn’t approached me first. She’s a beautiful, open, gregarious, charming Southern woman. Basically my complete opposite, lol, and yet we became the best of friends. In some ways, we’re even more unlike each other twenty years later (she doesn't even write anymore!) but our friendship remains.

I became friends with a playwright because I admired his work.  We both got different things out of our friendship and I firmly believe that it was through him that I learned how to write "funny". We've since drifted apart, but I'm so glad that I told him what a fan I was. The rewards were amazing.

When I think about it, I don’t have a heck of a lot in common with most of my closest friends.  We don’t live the same kinds of backgrounds or lives. We don’t share many interests or belief systems.  What we do share is a common “fandom”. We think there’s something amazing about each other.

That’s why, when I see or meet someone I think is exceptional, I try to tell them so. Sure I probably come across as a wee bit stalker-ish, but I know that the best way to connect with someone special is to start the conversation.

Tell me Killer Friends: Do you have any friends that you were once a fan of?

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B.E. Sanderson said...

For me, it's the chicken and the egg thing. I can't remember if I became a friend first or a fan first. It's probably been some kind of organic progression of both. I encountered them, I liked them, so I read their stuff and liked it, too, and we became real friends rather than just friendly acquaintances. Of course, you're the only writer I've met in person - and that was after years of knowing you and becoming friends online.

But I'm a hermit. Not really a lot of opportunity to get out there and meet people I could possibly fangirl over. =o)

Karyn Good said...

Very good advice and an excellent reminder. I sometimes forget this, even though I'm a writer and readaer and love to engage with other writers and readers. I remember the time I passed on the opportunity to approach renowned Canadian mystery writer, Gail Bowen and tell her how much I loved her books. I still regret it.

Silver James said...

I've been lucky to be a fan and then have the opportunity to become friends--first on-line and then in person. I still look in the mirror some days and think, "Why would *they* want to be friends with me?!?!?!?" It's both a kick in the pants and an amazing ego boost. And yes, several of them have changed my writing life. I will always owe them a huge debt of gratitude. And treasure their friendship. :)

Donna H said...

I have a lot of online friendships with authors that I'm a fan of. You are one of them!

Cynthia Valero said...

I knew if I put myself out there, something would return to me. It was you! And I always feel like the lucky one. :-) xoxoxox

jblynn said...

B.E. -- I'm so glad we met!

Karyn -- Glad you liked the reminder. I hate those kind of regrets

Silver -- Isn't it amazing how these things work out?!?!

Donna -- Awww, I'm so glad we've become friends, Donna!

Cyndi --No, I'M the lucky one!! xoxo!!

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