Link it up

A copy of my PhD thesis (a part of which went on to become Kilea), just after submitting. This was a good night out with friends, and I am not able to tell you the name of that shot because it's faintly hilarious and mostly obscene

I just read a lovely, encouraging post from the INTERN, and I want to direct all writers reading this in that direction. It’s all about helping out fellow writers (and could be extended to other artists too) by means of kindness and introductions and, which I love, lending books. I have a tendency to give away even books I really enjoyed and might look over again to friends I think would gain something important from the reading. This is why I no longer have One DOA and One on the Way, by Mary Robison, or The Way Through Doors by Jesse Ball, both novels (one in microfiction form, the other a web of fable like tales) that expanded my way of thinking about fiction.

If I would add only a few other points to INTERN’s list,

these would be:

1. Read. Their. Book. If your friend trusts you enough to give you the (finished, edited, done) copy of their novel, please, please try your best to get through it. If you don’t like it, that’s fine, you can be tactful, congratulate them on their efforts at crossing the finishing line. The worst feeling is when someone says ”I lost it…’ or, when they’ve told you they haven’t read it say ‘it was okay’. ‘Okay’ is worse than hating it, in my opinion. Hate at least implies some kind of passion.

2. Go to the book launch. Go to any readings or public appearances of your friend, even if you are tired or busy. It means so much to have friendly faces in a crowd (especially if the crowd is one scowling man texting on his blackberry and the bookseller sighing and looking at her watch).


3. When your friend gets their book published, don’t just blog about it, or review it (you may, if you are close friends, feel a bit hesitant about the latter) but buy a copy for two friends, and tell them if they really love it, to buy a copy for two friends of theirs, thus creating recommendation links outwards. If the book comes into the hands of someone who isn’t as keen on it as you were, tell them to pass it on for free to another friend. Go to your local library and request the book be stocked. Link the book up to readers in any way you can. Don’t do this out of sheer anticipation for your own endeavors, but out of desire to spread the love.

That’s all I can think of at the moment, any more ideas?


Filed under Scotland, The Now, Theory

10 responses to “Link it up

  1. I love the Intern!
    The only addition I would make is that if you read something that sings, let the author know. So many times we assume that they know their work is good, but you never know when you might push someone who’s having a rough go of it onward.

  2. Isn’t she great? I was so glad when she came back from India so I could read her again (very selfish of me).

    Good point, Lyra – it can really help when someone is in a funk to know their hard work is being read and appreciated.

  3. If I’m going to read a friend’s book, and I suspect I’m not going to like it, I try to find at least one point about it that I can speak of in detail: questioning the motivation of a given action, marveling at the evocation of a scene, appreciating the quality of the writing. Anything that shows that I gave the work a close reading and the writer fair respect. I may not like the work, but I like the effort it took to create it, and I will show that I paid attention.

    There is a small, rural library not far from my home that is, of course, underfunded. Over the years I have donated books there from my own shelves that I will not likely read again. The library often adds these to their collection. if not, they put them in their book sale fund raiser or give them to the local used book store. This is another way to get a friend’s novel into the hands of more people, people I would never otherwise have the chance to meet and introduce the writer to.

    • Definitely, donating books to your library is an admirable and generous thing – and it’s good to let people know this is an option. A fair number of people would do this if they knew there was an alternative to simply selling (or hoarding books that won’t be read).

  4. Great list (and congratulations on your novel winning the prize – I’ m behind.)

    I like your idea of buying books for 2 friends and asking them to do the same.

  5. Sam

    whatever that shot is called, you earned it after completing your PhD (…and it makes a fabulous placemat!) Congrats on your award, Helen. It’s inspiring to know that even more great things can come from something that’s an accomplishment in and of itself.

    • Thanks Sam! I feel really lucky – Kilea has been a lot of work (in the writing, and trying to get it out to a wider audience) but I’ve also had so many helpful people providing their support and words of encouragement.

  6. Really nice. I love when writers truly support other writers. It makes me weep less for the future.

    • Less weeping all around is good. There are far too many articles about the death of books, all saying the same thing without any suggestions for keeping literature as relevant as it’s always managed to be. Intern’s was a nice change I thought.

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