Buddy System


photo by Mike DelGaudio

Every writer should have a Writing Buddy.  By this I do not mean someone to sit in the same room and write while you’re writing.  Nor do I mean the sort of support-system buddy thing where two people agree to write, tell each other their word counts: “keep each other honest,” is the phrase I hear a lot.  Those are valuable things, but they’re not what I’m talking about.

A Writing Buddy is the person you call up with a plot problem that doesn’t seem vulnerable to solution.  A Writing Buddy is the person to whom you can give a dozen loosely-related scenes, who will sit down and tell you what it is you’re doing that you haven’t caught up to yet.  A Writing Buddy will tell you when something isn’t up to par–kindly, but firmly.  A Writing Buddy will rejoice with you when something goes well for you, because a Writing Buddy is a friend first… until he’s a writer first.

About thirty years ago I met a guy at a workshop in Boston, where we were both living.  It’s because he suggested it that I went to Clarion (he’d gone a few years before I did).  A bunch of us at that for-pay local workshop went on to found a workshop which is still going.  Through moves around town and out of town, through my marriage and his, through kids and jobs and good and bad luck, this guy has been my Writing Buddy. We used to have a pact (thankfully dissolved) that if either of us ever won a Major Writing Award the other would be in the audience–and would yell rude things when the person won, just to keep them honest (I came very close to having to do that some years ago).

We have a collaborative project we’ve been working on, off and on, for all those mumble years; when the stars align and we have the time to write it, it’s going to be killer–but even if we never do write it, my collaboration with my Writing Buddy over the years, the input we’ve had on each other’s work and thinking, has been really important.  I didn’t have a clue when I met him that the guy with the Missouri drawl and the bristly beard would be my Writing Buddy; these things evolve with time.

A few unrelated facts about my Writing Buddy: he used to make lutes; he works in tech, but his background is in biology; he used to drive a powder-blue VW bug; he’s a big fan of John Dos Passos; and he often speaks to himself in third person, as in “Come on, Popkes, what are you doing?”

All this is why I’m delighted that my Writing Buddy is joining Book View Cafe.  Please welcome Steve Popkes.  And if you haven’t got a Writing Buddy, you might look into it.  They’re really invaluable.


Madeleine Robins is a founding member of BVC, the author of a bunch of novels she is trying to get into electronic format, and a double-handful of short SF and fantasy available here.


About Madeleine E. Robins

Madeleine Robins is the author of The Stone War, Point of Honour, Petty Treason, and The Sleeping Partner (the third Sarah Tolerance mystery, available from Plus One Press). Her Regency romances, Althea, My Dear Jenny, The Heiress Companion, Lady John, and The Spanish Marriage are now available from Book View Café. Sold for Endless Rue , an historical novel set in medieval Italy, was published in May 2013 by Forge Books


Buddy System — 3 Comments

  1. I fell into my my writing buddy relationship. And it is totally invaluable. I think if you go looking for a buddy they will slip away like mercury.

    But when you stumble across the right one, grab quickly and hold on tight. Your writing will improve. Sometimes by leaps and bounds.

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