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My Writing Buddies

I never knew the importance of a writing buddy. That is, until I got one. (Or two.)

A few weeks ago, I received an inquiring email from one of my favorite bloggers. You all know her as Random Chick.

She kindly reached out to me with respects to the book I’ve been trying to write for what seems like an eternity. She knows I’ve been having a hell of a time figuring out a few things!

You see… I’ve never been to college. I’ve never even taken a single writing class. I’ve never had the pleasure of being a part of a writing group. And I’ve certainly never had a writing buddy! Heck, I’ve just been writing every day of my life since I was nine years old.

Aside from sharing preview blog posts with my pal Michael C, mostly I am out here writing blindly. From my gut. With no direction, no clue, and no guidance.

Yes, I know there are books I can read to help me learn all of those rules of grammar. And maybe one day I will get around to that. I will never forget the comment my grandfather, Poppa Sye, made to me when I was freaking out about weather or not I should make one sentence into two sentences or, if I should use a semi-colon. Poppa Sye said, “That’s what editors are for. You just tell your story.” Ever since then, that’s what I’ve been trying to do.

I can also pick up books about ‘how to write a book’. But, I tend to learn by doing. I’ve discovered that I learn best through my actions.

And there is one book in particular that I will read (Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird).

[I’ve promised KellyPea & Random Chick with a pinky swear that I will buy and read that book. And I take my pinkly swears very seriously.]

Of course my mother is always good for bouncing off ideas. She is a super smarty and she is always willing to take a peek or hard look at some of the pieces I have worked on. As lovely as that is, and as much as I appreciate her efforts, it’s just not the same as having personal contact with fellow writers or getting hands on feedback.

I have to tell ya’ll, that I was literally blown away and utterly inspired after I received my first email from Random Chick chock full of suggestions and commentary on the rough draft of my chapter one.

Not only has she been kind enough to offer up an open and honest opinion, she gave me the best ideas, direction and notes…Ever.

I was so inspired that I found the courage and the strength to dig out all of the journals regarding the 10 year span when I worked in the bar. Fortunately that time of my life has been very well documented which will come in handy for when I am stuck. I’ve already started re-reading some of them and I’ve begun the process of organizing them into chronological order.

Since last weekend was such a waste, and since this weekend is a THREE DAY weekend, I am taking full advantage of my time. Let’s see what this new keyboard can handle when I am pounding the keys during my re-write of chapter one.

The most amazing thing to me was that after all of this time and after staring at my rough draft for so long, I had no idea what to do with it. I knew it had holes in it. I knew it needed to be fleshed out, but when a project like this is so big, and so overwhelming its can be hard to see what I need to do. I needed ‘New Eyes’ and a fresh look by someone willing to tell me what was so obviously lacking.

There was a time not to long ago; in fact it was probably only a week before Random Chick contacted me when I wrestled with the idea of deleting the whole thing and chucking the entire concept right into the garbage. Why do I need to write about my past anyway? Right? Wrong.

I am more motivated than ever. I am more focused than ever. Having Random Chick’s input makes me feel like someone just handed me a compass in the middle of a dark, giant, overgrown forest. I am no longer lost. It is so nice to have direction.

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  • i love the idea of a writing buddy… not only to see things i cannot,, but to add an air of omniscience to pieces by injecting a third eye so to speak… i will have to be on the look out for one myself!!

  • Next time you’re lost in a forest, remember that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west.

  • I know what you mean, having someone you trust to go over your work with you is a great asset. That person is worth their weight in gold.
    Also, I noticed you made it over to my blog. Thanks for stopping by, hope you enjoyed your time there!

  • I don’t mean to be a stick-in-the-mud, but I disagree with this book choice. You’d probably like it, but I wouldn’t recommend it as a book that would improve your writing. It might inspire you for about a week after you read it and then you’ll probably realize you’re not much further ahead artistically or technically.

    “Bird by Bird” is more a memoir of the “writer” than a book on writing, with a bit of a self-help undertone. Writers need specifics, not pats on the back. If you want a hug, you’re better off going to one of those circle jerk writing circles every town and college campus seems to have. At least you’ll occasionally pick out some real feedback buried under obsequiousness.

    Becoming a good writer is like training for a fight. You work technical skills to the point that they become so much part of you that everyone calls it art and people start saying stupid shit like “you have a natural born talent.”

    You’re main problem is the same we all have, you don’t write enough, you don’t read enough. I’ve given you some more specific opinions in the past so I won’t repeat them here.

    Lamott has several fiction books, so it might be good to pick up one of those first before filling your head with her advice. If you like what she writes then follow through. She sells paper so I’ll give her credit and respect for that. But I disagree completely on her opinions on plot and structure (she basically doesn’t think a writer needs to worry about little things like that as is evident in her fiction).

    I’ll write up my beginning book recommendations on my writing blog some time today and have more to say there. And don’t forget you can check out books for free at your local library.

  • Hey Meleah!

    Thank you for the sweet words. I’m glad that I could help you out because you see, it helped me out too. 😉

    And I’m sorry but I have to disagree with Greg’s opinion about the book, but I will agree that Anne Lamott’s book is NOT a book that will tell you: to be a writer you must first do A. then B. then C. It will not tell you about grammar or how to construct the perfect plot or develop a character.

    What it does tell you is that you need to write, and work, and read, and write, and work, and read. The book will also show you what good writing is (in my opinion) because you forget that you are reading a book and you feel as if you are sitting there talking to Anne Lamott. Her descriptions are spectacular. Her advice from the heart. Her style is both self-deprecating and funny. Read it.

    Also listen to your Poppa Sye, just tell your story but write, write, write. Write every day at the same time, if you can. I know it’s hard because as a working Mother this is almost impossible!!

    Bottomline: listen to your heart. Don’t listen to people who want to tell you what they know because they just want to show you what good writers they are and make you feel bad.

  • Meleah

    Having a writing buddy KICKS ASS!
    Get One!

    Angry Man:
    Thats good to know!

    Ben Byrd:
    Seriously…I am loving this.

    Wow. How nice of you to finally stop by over here…
    But. Um. I take some issue with your comment.

    First of all, maybe I’d like to be inspired by reading that book. if only for a week. And just because you didn’t get anything from that book, doesn’t mean I wont get anything from that book.

    I don’t want a big HUG. I am not looking for pats on the back. I demand to hear the TRUTH about my own book, And fortunately that is just what Random Chick gave me when she sent over the revisions on my chapter one.

    As for my technical skills? I’m doing what Poppa Sye said.

    You’re main problem is the same we all have, you don’t write enough, you don’t read enough“”

    Really. Um. HOW DO YOU KNOW how much I read and write EVERY SINGLE day? For you to make such an assumption about the way I spend my time is quite arrogant. And uncalled for.

    By the way? How is YOUR book coming along? Are you any closer to being published?

    Random Chick;
    No. Thank YOU for all of your help so far. Now I know what to do and where to go with chapter one. I cant wait for this long weekend so that I can work on my re-write!!

    I am totally listening to Poppa Sye! And I am still totally buying an reading this book.

    Who knows maybe I will like it, maybe I will hate it. But I am certainly interested in reading this!

  • Gosh, Random Chick, those sounds like fightin words. Anyway I did say she’d probably like the book but don’t expect it to tell you how to write like Meleah seemed to be implying in her post.

    So we are basically agreeing that Lamott’s book would be a good read for some, but isn’t about how to write gooder. And if all Lamott is saying is write, work, read (she does say a lot more but mostly about herself); well we both said that so have just saved her some time.

    All that feel good stuff is fine but really doesn’t mean shit if you ain’t doing the work. Success in any field is about increasing your awareness of the technical aspects and details of the field. Most of the time it is very hard work with brief moments of exhilaration sprinkled here and there very sparsely. And when it comes to critiquing my own writing, I trust complete assholes much more than my closest friends.

    As I said, I respect Lamott for her accomplishments, but don’t agree with her analysis. Her little advice that she does give about plot is bad, but she managed to get stories without actually being stories published so go figure. As I said, read her actual work and if you like it, well, there you go then.

    Bottom-line: listen to your brain. And listen to EVERYBODY else and figure out with that brain-do-hicky what works for you. And never suppose that you know what other people are thinking or intend.

    Sorry, Random Chick, but I just can’t help being an ass sometimes. It’s quite endearing once you get to know me. Don’t take it personal. Ok, I take writing too seriously so I’ll shut up for the rest of this thread.

  • Ok, just this one reply since you asked me a direct question. You have to re-read my statement to know how I know you read and write every day. I’m talking about all writers. Nobody reads or writes enough. That is the problem that we all have. Ok, all done now.

  • Greg:
    Do you have any generic, vague, and utterly meaningless opinions as to why CNN.com hasn’t hired me as a full-time blogger? I mean, your first comments were so thorough and in-depth . . .

  • Meleah


    I never IMPLIED that Lamott’s book would tell me ‘how to write’. Maybe you need to re-read my post. In fact I do not want a book that tells me ‘how to write a book‘. Again, re-read my post.

    Your asshole qualities can be endearing. Hell, thats one of the reasons I like you. Your honesty.

    However for someone who takes writing so seriously, you need to learn how to find another voice because you fail to connect with a reader while up on that high horse of technicalities. And, no ONE wants to read a book or a story written in a mono-tone voice.

    You talk a lot about the importance of writing MORE, yet, I don’t see your blog(s) updated daily, or ever hear about the progress you are making on your own book.

    Oh AND Bottom Line: THE POINT OF THIS POST. I was/ am NOT interested in anyones opinion about Lamott’s book. The TOPIC at hand is WRITING BUDDIES.

    Angry Man:
    I think you’d make a fine blogger for CNN.

  • Meleah:
    I’m glad someone appreciates my hard-hitting analysis! 🙂

  • Hey – What you write is what YOU write. Thats all you need! Your writing comes from your heart. Thats what makes good writing. I’d be happy to be a proof reader for ya! Love from the Beach!

  • Jay

    Gosh, that’s quite inspiring! I do have someone who will read my stuff and comment, but it’s all usually so positive that I don’t feel I’m that much further forward.

    I’m happy for you! Now get back to that hot keyboard and keep writing!!!

  • LOL @ Angry man!!!

  • Meleah

    Angry Man:
    Yeah you ask those tough questions.

    Thanks! You are a doll. I am so jealous I am not on vacation like YOU are!

    Thank you for GETTING the point of this post and staying on topic!

    Random Chick:
    He sure can be funny!

  • You are so damn lucky to have someone like her willing to help you! I am happy for you. Its the main reason I don’t start a book…I know what I want to say but its a jumble of notes with horrible grammar and punctuation and it makes me cry to think about organizing it.

    Bird by Bird is indeed a good book, if you like that one also check out “Writing Down the Bones” by Natalie Goldberg, those are really the only two writing books I’ve ever run across that are about getting the words out…very inspirational!

  • Random Chick sounds like such a gift! I’m glad you found someone to encourage and help you. I’d hate to see you trash your project because I know you’re going to be the author of an amazing book someday soon!

  • Lee

    Some of the most technically sound writers I have read have produced the most boring examples of self-absorbed crap I have ever read in my life. It’s kind of like the technically perfect photographers who are so quick to tear apart a picture that they feel are full of flaws. I have a lot of technically faulty photos that other people enjoy. That’s all I’m looking for.

    In a lot of ways, I think writing talent is much like any other talent. There are those who seem to have a natural gift. Unlike singing talent, however, a good writer can be developed with work and the right guidance. That’s where the writing buddies come in handy. Especially if they know what they’re talking about.

    From what I’ve seen, Meleah, you have the raw talent to be an excellent writer. Do you need some polishing? Hell yes. We all do.

  • Meleah

    I am sofa king lucky to have such a wonderful woman helping me. I only HOPE that I can step up to the plate and return the favor to her when its my turn to review her rough drafts!

    Thank you so much for those kind words of encouragement.

    “a good writer can be developed with work and the right guidance. That’s where the writing buddies come in handy. Especially if they know what they’re talking about.”


  • I took some courses in college but they were working hard on Johnny bumbledick who graduated highschool without being able to read or write. The courses were pretty much dick and jane stuff.

    I think you write really well and a buddy could never hurt.

  • grandpa is right, just get it on paper. an editor is going to uh….do what they do.

    you’ll do and be just fine.

  • Awwwwww! I am so happy to hear that you have found direction. For years people have been asking.. actually telling me to ‘write my story’. I just can not do it. Stop and start, stop and start and I have gotten no where. So, I just blog, and I imagine one day it will all come together there.

    I am look forward to you completing your book and sending me an autographed copy, lol. 🙂

  • Meleah

    Yeah, I’d rather not spend the money right now on taking any classes!!

    Thanks sweety. You are alway so supportive.

    I am thrilled to have such a wonderful writing buddy. I will be sure to sign a copy of my book for you when and if it ever gets finished!

  • wow. what a great gal to run into! that is invaluable. she clearly rocks.

  • Well, I’m kinda partial to Strunk & White’s Elements of Style for the technicalities. …and I’ve already mentioned Stephen King’s On Writing just for another perspective on the process.

    You’re on the right track, Mereb. ..and I love Poppa Sye’s advice. That really is the point isn’t it? To tell your story from your gut and heart?

  • Meleah

    She rocks the casba!

    That book (by strunk) is my BIBLE.
    Ive added the Steven King book to my list of things I need to buy the next time I go to Barnes and Nobel, which will hopefully be on FRIDAY.

    Isn’t Poppa Sye the cutest? !

  • That’s great to have a writing buddy, Meleah. Sometimes someone else can see something that we’ve been missing all along. We have blinders on to what we want to see in our written word. That you two have found each other is awesome!

  • Well, I just think this is fantastic. How kind Random Chick is. A writing buddy really makes all the difference. The only way is up now! Writing from the heart, that’s what it’s all about. I am really excited for you.

  • Oh My… Thought I pop over to say hi and never expected to read the colorful commentary. I’m sure you will be a great book author!

  • Woot! I am so looking to this book 🙂

    Random chick is awesome for helping you out.

    Pats on the back are great, but can also mean you could end up like those unfortunate sods that audition for American Idol.

    So is Random Chick like Simon Cowell? 🙂

  • Meleah

    I am very lucky

    Her kindness & generosity is amazing

    Miss Money Penny:
    Yeah, sometimes it can be a little loud over here!
    Thanks for the compliment

    Well if by that you mean totally HONEST and not sugar coating? Then yes, RC is much like Simon. Who is AWESOME!

  • Yep thats exactly what I meant 🙂

    RC is awesome.

  • Meleah


    Yes. She. Is.

    I love that woman!

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