In the midst of a recent discussion that turned into pop psychology I got thinking about why I’m so outspoken sometimes. I mean, I certainly know the trouble it can get me into. Many people can’t separate the personal from the professional, so if you say, “I’m rejecting your short story” some of them think you don’t like them.
I’ve been a boss. I don’t find it easy, but yes, I’ve had to discipline people I like when they’ve screwed up. And I’ve been friends with bosses and they’ve had to put me in my place.
So, you disagree with someone on an opinion, sometimes they respond like it’s the end of the world. Every time you put your thoughts out there you’re inviting a reaction, and it might not always be that people agree with you.
One thing I’ve always been adamant about, and that’s defending my friends. We all have different levels of friendships with people, so when I say this I’m referring to my inner circles, the people I trust most. You have a go at them, you’re having a go at me. It’s just that simple.
I don’t mean this in the context of they do something wrong and have to own up to it. I mean it more like what recently happened at a convention, when someone made a remark that came off like an insult against another author. If you were there, you know. If you read Rara Avis, you know. If you don’t know the who and what already, you don’t need to, but if you read Rara Avis you know I spoke my mind over it.
And I’d do it again.
The thing is, lots of people will express support in private, but when you come under attack in the public domain it can feel awfully isolating. And most people won’t speak out publicly, because they don’t want to come under attack themselves. I can understand that, but to me, if one of my good friends is getting kicked unfairly, I’m not going to let them bear the brunt alone. I’ll stand with them.
It does get tricky. Every regular here will know of the lengthy defense I posted of one author a few months ago over a misconstrued comment in an interview that became an excuse to bash him on forums and blogs, and radio. Now, I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on that. I don’t know if I did him any favours, because maybe I just made him more aware of what was going on, and as a result was responsible for any hurt feelings over it. I don’t know. What I do know is this: If something like that happened again I would want to find a way to show support to someone I consider a friend.
I always feel bad if I don’t know a friend is going through a hard time. I was talking to Cornelia yesterday and I was saying how tricky it is, because if you find out later someone you care about is having a hard time you feel like a real jerk that you didn’t know sooner, that you couldn’t be there for them. I wouldn’t want my friends to shield me from harsh truths because they didn’t want me to worry. I understand that thinking – believe me, I do – but part of real friendship is being there for people in the ups and the downs, good times and bad.
Your real friends are the ones who stick by you, no matter what. Not because they can get something from you. Not because you’re the flavour of the month, so they want to bask in your popularity.
The stick by you because you’re you, and they like you and care. End of story.
One thing that’s abundantly clear to me after going through tough times – I know who my friends are. And aren’t. That’s sometimes a hard thing to learn, but really, never a bad thing.
Now, if you haven’t made it over to Crimespace yet, I hope you check it out soon. A great place to hang out and get to know authors, writers and readers online.