I have a friend. Let’s call her Trixie. She is a truly talented visual artist, still struggling to make it, but really creative and ambitious. I have no doubt that she’ll be huge some day soon. She’s working on a new project right now; just as I am finishing up one book and making notes on another one. We share our frustrations and joys, we support each other in our endeavors. She is not one of my beta readers. I don’t look for criticism from her, just the emotional backing you get from another person who has also chosen to spend their life trying to do something non-traditional and difficult. It doesn’t matter what she is working on, she has my whole-hearted support. All of us need someone like this, someone who urges you on, and hoists you up. Lately though Trixie has started to give me her opinions. Let me reiterate, she is not a beta reader.I have three other lovely, constructive and tough people who fulfill that position for me. She is not my agent and she is not my editor. She is my friend. I’ve just finished my first draft of FIERCE. This is something I have tried to write in many different ways over the last eight or nine years. In the original concept, one of the MC was going to commit suicide. It became clear to me, as I wrote, that it didn’t make sense anymore. But an overdose, that did make sense. Trixie disagrees vehemently (although she has not read any of the draft). I feel as if I have disappointed her somehow, and it makes me angry. She then begged me to tell her about my next WIP, something I have outlined only and been hugging to my chest, examining it occasionally and feeling that thrill you get when you have a new idea. I am awful at summing up my plots esp. when I have not put pen to paper yet. But she begged, so I told her. There was silence. She felt that it (an urban fantasy) was too unlike my dystopian YA LUCKY, and the coming of age novel I just finished. Although she knows nothing about it really, I was left feeling as if something valuable had been taken away from me. The excitement of the unknown when all you have is the spark of an idea, a really great character and a good story. It’s like losing a treat in store. I know that many (most) writers don’t share any of their works in progress. They don’t even talk about what they are doing or planning. They keep quiet throughout those long months until they have something that is close to their ideal and then they show it to only a few trusted people. It’s hard not to announce in advance. Writing is solitary. You wonder what people think you’re doing at all hours, for so many months (or years), but actually most of them don’t notice or care. As far as they’re concerned you seclude yourself for a while and then emerge, cobweb- covered and thinner, with a sheaf of papers clutched in your fist. And they are happy to see you. But unless they themselves are writers, no one much marvels at the process of it. Do you share? Or do you close your shell around yourself and that tiny grain of sand?