by Veronica Forand
Did you ever wonder exactly how many friends you have in this world? Not Facebook friends, Twitter followers, or relatives, but the “help, my battery won’t start, do you have jumper cables” kind of friends? Real honest to God old fashioned friends.
I recently did a count and realized that I’ve let too many people go from my life because of obligations and commitments. If I called them for jumper cables, they’d be surprised to hear from me. That’s not right. And it puts me at the mercy of AAA.
I do have a small posse who I can rely on and who can rely on me for any number of things; coffee chats, lunches out, watching the kids, or plain old griping over the phone. Not redecorating advice, I’m pretty inept at decorating. I once decided on blue wall-to-wall carpeting, so I painted the walls the same blue. I then added a blue and white striped couch for contrast and a painting of a boat in blue water. Luckily, we moved and my friends never let me decorate again without assistance.
So I’ve come up with five steps for me to reconnect with some lost friends:
Call them. I need to get over my fear that they don’t actually want to talk to me. We are all busy, so I need to give them the benefit of the doubt. And believe me, there’s a lot of doubt.
Surprise them at their houses with coffee. Although the last time I tried this, the friend was just short of finishing her afternoon romp with her husband. She won’t be inviting me over in the near future.
Pick up their children from school to give them a break. Generally, call first. Kidnapping charges are difficult to fight, especially with an irate parent sitting next to the prosecution.
Have my children join their children’s activities. Kids get more structured learning moments, because they don’t have enough, and mothers have a chance to connect. I first need to make sure John wants to join the ballet class, because pink tights aren’t comfortable for boys, or so I’ve heard.
Use social media. This generally defeats the point of personally reaching out to my friends, but time is limited and they should be happy with any contact I can give them.
- When critiquing another person’s manuscript, remember that your voice does not belong in someone else’s work. I’ve restructured entire pages before remembering that I’m not the author and the person doesn’t necessarily want a humor hit immediately after the dog dies.
- Sometimes showing is more dramatic and effective than telling, but not always.
- Sentences containing the word “was” are not all passive. Sorry to the person whose work I annihilated. I’ve been reading up on basic grammar and shouldn’t make that mistake again.
- If judging a contest, NEVER tell the writer that you would have stopped reading if you didn’t have to judge the story. That’s just mean.
- Novels don’t have to be in deep POV. Many successful writers have drawn readers into their stories without using the technique at all.
- Rhetorical devices can create interesting, amusing, and entertaining passages. They can also create cloying, artificial, and annoying pages to endure.
- Read dialogue aloud. If it doesn’t flow off your tongue, it probably won’t flow off the character’s tongue either.
- Don’t send people a first draft to critique. Fix the glaring errors yourself so the person doing the critique can concentrate more on plot, characterization, and flow.
- Find people to critique your work that understand and like your voice. If you write snarky vampire princess books, make sure the person who critiques your manuscript appreciates snarky vampire princesses.
- Be honest, but only if it’s helpful. A professor in college once told me that I couldn’t write a quality term paper because I had no talent for writing. I proved him wrong when I won a writing contest in law school and earned a spot on the International Tax Law Review. It wasn’t my lack of talent that hindered me; it was my lack of a quality teacher.