Why Girlfriends Matter… by Nancy Brophy

The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.” -Vincent “Vince” Lombardi

It is almost impossible for me to allow others the dignity of their choices. Like many women I have a hard time not interfering in my friend’s lives. My intellectual contention is that friends rely on each other, but I also think many people who choose badly, do so all their lives and nothing you say will ever make a difference. Knowing this, does not however, prevent me from offering my opinion.

Nor does it save me from making bad decisions. Years ago between my first and second marriages I discovered that in a room filled with available men I was capable of sniffing through the lot and finding the same guy over and over again. This was a quite a skill, because the male in question was frequently camouflaged by a different face or pedigree, but believe me when I state, the gene pool was the same. And for me, it was always a toxic mix.

Why is it so much easier to identify a friend’s flaws rather than my own?

One of the most satisfying things about writing fiction is the ability to sculpt everyone’s lives to give the hero and heroine a happily-ever-after. Yet my own life refuses to respond to my pen.

Writers complain all the time. No time to write. Finding an agent, an editor or a publishing house is a grueling, time consuming process. Being published does not mean we can quit the day job. First books sold, but not as well as we wanted. Or our second. Or our work in progress has become the manuscript that refuses to end.

Do not misunderstand – writing is hard work, but because it is “creative” work it is not done by sitting at a desk at nine o’clock and finishing at five. There are, of course, disciplined writers who work like that, but real frankly, complaining is so much easier and garners so much more sympathy.

In the past few months, my books have begun – quite of their own accord – to tumble into the hands of readers. My greatest thrill every day (in fact, several times a day) is to check my numbers on Amazon. Computers are so clever. I’m amazed mine doesn’t automatically open to that page rather than waiting for me to type in a few keystrokes.

But here’s the thing. This is happening by magic. My Fairy Godmother has waved her wand allowing the pumpkin to dance out of the field and morph into a coach. I have no control over it. Instead of relishing my moment in the sun, I am worried I will never be able to duplicate it again. I have worked hard to get to the point and yet I cannot allow myself to enjoy it. If I were a heroine in a story with this problem, readers would scream at me, slam the book shut and throw it against the wall.

In real life, my true friends, do not allow me the dignity of my choice to throw my hand to my forehead and suffer loud and long. Instead they counsel me to consider that despite this imaginary roadblock my life will go on. They remind me that I do not write because I wish to become a literary great. I write because my mind won’t allow me to stop.

And since I started this post with a quote by a famous man, let me end with another.

“Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one.”  -Bruce Lee


Posted on June 8, 2012, in General and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Great post, Nancy! My writing friends definitely keep me sane. Besides, with whom else could I discuss a character as if he were real and not have people back away from me?

    And Maggie, thanks for sharing the info!


  2. Maggie, thanks for sharing 🙂 It’s a goal to shoot for. I’m nuts about the data, too. I’m still convinced there’s a yellow brick road, though it’s still illusive, lol.


  3. Good data to know. It supports what I have thought. Thanks.


  4. Nancy, you are right that girlfriends do keep us just this side of insanity. As for your Amazon numbers, I sincerely doubt it’s magic. Instead I think it reflects hard work in three areas: 1) keeping the word out there about your books; 2) having books that tell stories readers want to hear; and 3) having enough books out that readers know you aren’t a one-book author. I

    I’ve been tracking tipping points from various author blogs (and friends who share real data) and so far the biggest tipping point from hardly any or nominal sales to substantial sales is at about 9 books. So, to you and all other authors who are getting your work out there, keep writing. I’ll bet at about 9 books you will see substantial income gains. If it comes earlier, please share. I’m a nut for gathering and analyzing this kind of data (all shared anonymously of course).


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