Don’t worry, I’m not going to go all gooey-eyed on you and talk about rainbows and unicorns (hey, what’s wrong with rainbows and unicorns?), but I am going to break out Yu-gi-oh as an object lesson.
Yu-gi-oh, a children’s card-game originating in Japan, also had it’s own TV series which, I admit, I watched as a child. In it four friends had a special bond which they showed by joining hands and drawing a symbol on them so that they each were part of a larger whole. They stuck together, helped each other in their adventures, and chose their friends over glory and honor. Yes, the series is goofy, childish, and painful to watch now that I’m an adult, but it highlights an vital fact of life: friendship is important.
Two are better than one…For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls alone
A cord of three strands is not easily broken.
I could go on and on, but I’m sure you get the point. But friendship isn’t only a general good thing for a healthy life: it is vital for anyone seeking to make a living as a “creator” (artist, writer, musician, what-have-you). I’m not just talking about having a few good friends, though these are important. In our digital age, we have the capability of being “friends” with thousands, even millions of people at a time. These friendships aren’t going to have the same depth as your few, good friends, but they are JUST AS IMPORTANT.
My philosophy is that every stranger is a friend you haven’t met yet, and this open attitude has gotten me further in writing than I could have ever gotten on my own. You reap what you sow, and having a welcoming attitude to meeting others and getting involved (i.e. genuinely caring about them) comes back to you in kind. People will want to know you and want to share what you do with others.
But you can’t be a vampire, living by sucking life out of other people. You have to be involved: experience they have to give, share it with others, offer words of encouragement, advice, and praise. In our modern digital age, networking (also known as platform building) is the life or death of a writer. I would go a step further and say that insincere networking can kill you faster than staying home. People can tell if you care, and nobody wants to know how much you know (or what you’re selling) until they know how much you care. That’s why my philosophy is to make friends with every person I meet. I see each person as a PERSON, as a unique individual with meaning, importance, feelings, hopes, and dreams. Each person is worthy of a relationship, they aren’t just followers on your twitter feed or numbers on your website hit counter. They are people, and when you treat them as friends, not consumers, you are enriching your life. It is better to give than to receive. That friend, whether a fellow writer or a reader, has wisdom to share and support to give.
One thing I love so much about the writer community is how many amazing friendships I’ve made. Of course, there are bad apples, but that should never stop you from reaching out. I am a better writer, and a better person, because of my friends. No if ands or buts. I’m smarter, wiser, more experienced, and better prepared to take on this world and its challenges because of the people I know stand beside me, all the way from a casual fan who will share a Facebook post to my own husband who will always tell me if something I wrote is stupid. By myself I am a small pane of glass: beautiful, unique, and shiny, but not much to look at all by myself. With my friends, my networks, my fellow writers and all the amazing, wonderful people who believe in what I do, together we are a breathtaking stained glass window that depicts the beauty of life that is shared with others.
So, don’t be lazy, don’t be selfish. Maybe you’re an introvert so your friend circle is small. Maybe you’re like me and everyone is a friend. It’s all fine, just go make friends. Be sincere, be open, give of yourself and show that you care. Some will reject you, but it is their loss. Some people complain they don’t have time. Well make time (don’t be an idiot and do nothing else of course, be wise with your time, just not selfish). Build, and be part of, a community. Revel in the beauty of those around you and you’ll find that you yourself are shining all the brighter.
What are your thoughts on friendship? How have friends helped you in your career or life? Please comment below, and have a wonderful week!