October 14, 2010


I’ve just finished the fifth draft of my fourth novel, “The Necromancer.”  I think I like it, but I’m not certain whether I’ve done what I intended  because I’ve had my nose pressed hard against the computer for the last several months. I’ve lost the distance objectivity requires. I’ll send the draft to the woman who will read it critically and she’ll give me her assessment.

Not all writers use an editor before they submit their manuscript to a publisher. But knowing how competitive the market is, I want to send my best effort. I consider my editor my edge because I trust her judgment. I pay for her services, true; but I think of her has a friend, someone I can rely upon to help me reach my goal.  That’s what friends do, don’t they?

Sometimes we Americans use the word friend lightly. In other countries people’s languages designate the degree of friendship, intimate or formal, by the manner of address. In this country, we tend to describe as friends someone we met at a bowling alley or a book club. But friendship has responsibilities that aren’t always easy. We want our friends to tell us the truth. People who let us fall on our faces because they are timid or fear to antagonize do little for the relationship. 

Of course, hearing the truth isn’t always welcome and we don’t want to be with a person who constantly criticizes; but flattery isn’t satisfying either. What we want is someone who will tell us the truth when it’s asked for and give it kindly when it’s likely to hurt. Such candor requires courage and only someone who cares about us will take the risk. Truth is a precious gift. Without it, can we truly see?

There is a quid pro quo to this relationship, however. When we ask for the truth, we should pay our friends the courtesy of listening.