Relationships – a meditation

As I rolled this month’s theme around in my head, I found myself growing thoughtful. It’s cold, dreary, and rainy here in the ‘Burgh. As I pondered, these lines from John Donne came to mind:

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main…therefore, never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

(Factoid: Although I learned this as a poem, it is not, in fact, a poem. It is a meditation Donne dedicated to Prince Charles, son of King James I. But I digress.)

The entire text emphasizes how we are all connected. That one is not really separate from the other. That we are defined by our relationships. Very true personally and professionally.

The publishing world is full of relationships. A few:

  • The relationships between fellow writers. These may be friends, they may be critique partners, or blog sisters. They are the people who prop us up when our spirits are flagging; help us tease out the solution to that problematic manuscript; give us wine, chocolate, and a shoulder to cry on when things aren’t going our way; and give us wine, chocolate, and dance a celebratory jig when they do.
  • If we are traditionally published (or pursuing traditional publication), the relationship between writer and agent. The agent is the person who is going to represent the writer to the industry. Who will help her shine up that manuscript before sending it out into the world. Brainstorm new ideas. And, of course, provide wine and chocolate and sympathy/celebration at the appropriate times.
  • Writers and editors. Again, if you are traditionally published, this might be an agent ad your house. If you are indie published, this is the person you work with to give that manuscript a good scrub. Again, they are sounding boards. They provide feedback. They may help brainstorm ideas. Ideally, they work with you to make your book the best it can be. They may or may not provide wine and chocolate, depending on the closeness of the relationship (are you sensing a theme around wine and chocolate?).
  • Between author and cover designer (if you are indie published or you are lucky enough to get input on your covers). This person is going to represent your book in art. That image will be the first a potential reader sees before clicking “buy” or heading to the checkout.
  • Between author and publicist (if you either work with one through your publisher or you hire one). The two of you will spread the word of your masterpiece far and wide.
  • Between author and reader. The mother lode. There are authors I’ve met who I count as dear friends. They graciously share their creations and invite me to lose a few hours inside their worlds. There are other authors I’ve never met – but each time a new book comes out, it’s an open invitation. Come visit – we’re happy to have you.

The trope is of the solitary writer, banging away on the keyboard or scribbling in a notebook, fueled by coffee, wine, chocolate, and dreams. But nothing is further from the truth. Publishing is a world that abounds with relationships and we are all better for it.

Every once in a while, we get together at a conference like Bouchercon or Malice Domestic. The ultimate celebration where old friendships are renewed, new ones are made, and laughter flows like wine and chocolate (there it is AGAIN).

And they say writing is a solitary endeavor. Shows how little they know.

Readers and writers, what’s your favorite relationship in your bookish life?


Author: Liz Milliron

Liz Milliron has been making up stories, and creating her own endings for other people's stories, for as long as she can remember. She survived growing up through reading, cutting her mystery teeth on Agatha Christie, Mary Higgins Clark and, of course, Nancy Drew. As an adult, she finds escape from the world of software documentation through creating her own fictional murder and mayhem. She lives near Pittsburgh with her husband and two teenage children, and fantasizes about owning a dog again - one of these days.

11 thoughts on “Relationships – a meditation”

  1. Great post, Liz! I love reading the acknowledgement page in books because of all the people who work together to help bring a book into the world. It takes a village! 🙂


  2. Great post, Liz. I’d have to say my on-line writing group for mystery writers. I get the best comments from them, always encouraging, yet spotting and pointing out the snags in the story.


  3. Art, fair enough. 🙂

    Kate, I always read the acknowledgements page, too. Yes, it does take a village.

    Sue – yes, teachers! Where would we be without them?

    Keenan, writing groups are the best, online or face-to-face.


  4. I treasure all the relationships I have with my authors, and they are MY authors because when I am reading a book, that author is speaking through words and pages to me and just to me. I treasure those relationships although I am not “faithful” to one author only. I anxiously return to my favorite authors as each new book comes out. It is like visiting with an old friend. I also eagerly explore new “literary” relationships with new-to-me authors; I like most, but not all. However, I benefit from every book-author experience.

    I have seen first-hand the relationship that authors have with each other. When I attend book signings, EVERY author talks about the help, encouragement and general support they have received from other authors from both the “rich and famous” authors and from ones just starting.

    Authors share a unique, symbiotic, relationship not found in any other career. We readers benefit from that cooperative spirit. Thanks, and keep it up.


  5. Peg, that is a situation that cannot last!

    3 no 7 – thank you! And we’d never expect readers to be “exclusive.” Besides, there’s more fun in a large group (and remember, most of us authors are readers, too).

    Thanks Sam!


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