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Cyber Friends and Like Minds

Our guest yesterday said something toward to end of her interview that struck a chord with me and I know with readers as well. She said that she “would never underestimate the importance of surrounding herself with like-minded people,” meaning those who write.

Writing as a profession is a lonely occupation. Only those who don’t do it will disagree. It comes from roaming around inside your own head all day trying to come up with something that someone else will want to read, or which will influence people to your perspective, or will illuminate a travesty which needs a solution. There are many areas where writing is an integral part. And all the work is done inside the head.

It doesn’t matter how much outside expertise you look for, how much assistance you get, ultimately it’s your name as a byline. It’s your reputation on that line. It’s your words that make or break that line. That’s the awful reality.

I say awful because only those in the same word-leaking vessel can possibly understand what you’re talking about when you mention one or another problem.

A few months ago I read a letter to the editor in one of my writer’s mags. [Can’t remember which one.] The writer was grousing about other writers who go on and on about social networking. The writer couldn’t understand why another had to obsess about the people met online; even to the point of actually feeling as if these people were as close/closer to that writer as family.

The writer advised getting out of the house more often; meeting flesh and blood people for coffee or dinner; going to a ballgame where live people cheered, shouted, and otherwise participated. The opinion voiced was that if a writer needed friends that badly, find some people living down the street and befriend them. [Hey, I know some of the people down the street. I-I-I-I don’t think so.]

After I read it, and finished laughing, I took a few serious moments and really considered the viewpoint. I have lots of writer friends who are, heaven bless me, closer to me now than all others except a handful of family and friends. I knew that then and wondered what this incensed person would think about my reality.

I believe that the reason social networking is so popular between writers is because we like talking shop, and we like talking with those who understand. We also enjoy getting the kind of intellectual companionship that comes from like-minds, as Lynn says. We need the encouragement when a rejection finds its way into our mailbox. We want to know that compassion reigns with our “cyber friends” when there’s no one to talk to in the middle of the night after one of those really bad calls that come about a death, anaccident, etc. These are people we can go to with our problems, our joys, our ideas, our uncertainties. In short, they are, indeed, our friends.

The argument arises that the individual has no real knowledge of the person on the other end of the connection. I would ask this. How well does anyone know anyone? Those spouses that think they know each other. Is that really true? What about – well, you get it.

It comes down to a matter of trust and personal instinct in the end. My personal instinct has a tendency to be fairly accurate. Thankfully so. I revel in the reality that I have made some very good friends over this past year who enrich my life with their presence in it.

How about yourself? Are your “cyber friends” as real and supportive as those in town? Do you rely on their writing advice as much as you would someone in town? Give it a thought, come to your own conclusions, and then wonder why that other writer was so upset about you having “cyber friends” and enjoying it.

Have a great weekend, people.

A bientot,

Clauds

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  1. Marie Elena
    January 17, 2010 at 5:20 pm

    I have a cousin who enjoys writing and blogging. She is the only one in my physical realm of existence who shares that love with me. I thank God (literally) each and every day for my cyber friends. All of my cyber friends are writers, and all are extremely supportive and encouraging. Some are pushy … in a good way. I need the push. Some are more honest than others in critiquing my work, and I am most thankful for the honesty. I feel comfortable sharing myself in a very personal way with a select few, and I cherish the fact that I can count on their support and prayers.

    So, are my cyber friends as real and supportive as those in town? In my love of writing — more so.

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