Writers in the Storm

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August 22, 2016

What Do You Bring to Your Support Team?

Announcing the winners of Laurie Schnebly Campbell's contest: Comment #21 and #35 as chosen by random.org. Congratulations to Alice Fleury and Melissa Racine. You can contact Laurie to arrange your free class.

And now, you're in for a real treat, as Kathryn Craft continues her Turning Whine Into Gold series.

Kathryn CraftKathryn Craft

Do you ever seek to connect with certain people for the primary reason that they have beautiful energy about them? I do, and just thinking of them can bring a big boost to my day. They are deep thinkers, endlessly curious, good listeners, resilient as all get-out, and, like a tennis player bouncing in the ready position, seemingly game for whatever comes next. I recognize them at first meeting, because they don’t (read: “cannot”) hide their light under a bushel. I always look forward to seeing them, because I know that without a doubt, I will come away the richer for it.cover225x225

In the theory of synchronicity put forth in his 1993 novel, The Celestine Prophecy, James Redfield suggests that any meeting between two people who are acting from their “higher selves” is meant to have this effect on each other. Can I prove that this is so? No—but I love thinking about it.

Redfield’s book was a spiritual guide thinly disguised as a novel. As literature it was roundly criticized—as would be any plot that relies entirely on coincidence. But I have learned to pay attention when a book is a runaway hit, assuming it has some takeaway for me (yes, even Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight). The Celestine Prophecy enjoyed a 165-week perch on the New York Times Best Seller list, and in 1995 and 1996 it was the #1 book in the world. It changed the way I came to view the give-and-take in every interaction.

While two people who are acting from their higher selves will feed each other’s energy, people acting from their lower selves tend to try to steal that energy. Redfield suggests this energy theft happens in one of several predictable ways—and the first sheds light on the very nature of whining.

Poor Me
I hate to say it, but this is my control drama. When I am tired, or feel beaten or broken, I whine (I’ve been writing Turning Whine Into Gold for three years now—how do you think I came to know so much about it?). When I whine to another person, I seek their comfort. I have nothing else to give back right then. I want to build myself up by syphoning off some of their energy. This is a relatively passive form of control.

IMG_0544My husband has beautiful energy, but this is his drama when acting from his lower self. He goes into his man cave (okay, office) and shuts himself off until I venture forth to find out what’s wrong. Knowing that I will eventually chase after him is his way of syphoning energy off of me. Not that it takes that many steps to go find out, or burns that many calories to ask, but his low-pressure system causes an energy suck that I can feel even when I’m up in my writing loft.


This was my mother’s control drama. She would woo me with empathetic-seeming questions until she had my trust, seeking my weakness, and then be critical of my answers. You must keep your guard up around an interrogator at all times, anticipating their thoughts and actions so you can avoid the criticism. Keeping you off-balance is how the interrogator syphons your energy.

This is the most aggressive form of energy manipulation. Through threats or abuse, the intimidator forces you to put him or her at the center of the relationship at a great deal of emotional cost to you—but oh, do they feel powerful in the end.

At the very least, these control dramas may be of use in your fiction. At best, they can improve the relationships you rely upon to maintain your writing career.

An awareness that your control drama has been tripped can make you quicker to realize that it’s time to spend some time alone and shore up your reserves. Because our work is passion-driven, there’s a trap for all writers: once we identify as a writer seeking publication, we tend to focus on what we want—from our relationships with our agent (sell for big money!), editor (make me shine!), publicist (make my book visible everywhere!) and even our readers (buy more and review more I beg of you!). Oh, and could our husbands and/or children please be more understanding and supportive—or, let’s face it, self-sufficient?

Such desires are understandable, but when (inevitably) unmet, they can be like bleeding out, draining you to the point you are ready to suck energy like a vampire from any warm-blooded source.

At such times we need more of those energy-boosting exchanges—but ironically, to benefit, we have to contribute. If you want to create a publishing team that works—even on the home front—try to think of the ways your enthusiasm can foster the effort.

What do you bring to your relationships with your agent, publisher, publicist, and family? You bring a book, yes—but that’s a product. How does your writing help make you a better person, and how can you bring that to your relationships? How do you protect your energy so that you can avoid slipping into a control drama?

If you have anyone with beautiful energy in your life, please pay them tribute in the comments. Then emulate!

art-of-falling1.jpgKathryn Craft is the award-winning author of two novels from Sourcebooks:10685420_966056250089360_8232949837407332697_n.jpg The Art of Falling, and The Far End of Happy. Her chapter “A Drop of Imitation: Learn from the Masters” will appear in the forthcoming guide from Writers Digest Books, Author in Progress, available now for pre-order.

Her work as a developmental editor at Writing-Partner.com, specializing in storytelling structure and writing craft, follows a nineteen-year career as a dance critic. Long a leader in the southeastern Pennsylvania writing scene, she leads workshops and speaks often about writing.

Twitter: @kcraftwriter
FB: KathrynCraftAuthor

23 comments on “What Do You Bring to Your Support Team?”

  1. My critique partners absolutely save me so many times. And WFWA helped me feel like I belong. And then there are the incredible writers of this blog who share wisdom, encouragement and love.

    1. Tasha you have clearly found great CPs! This is an arena that sees a lot of energy-stealing for sure. Whole-heartedly agree about WITS and WFWA. Always happy to see you here, Tasha!

  2. What a topic and how interesting. I had forgotten all about THE CELESTINE PROPHECY but I certainly remembered reading it when it was a #1 hit. And I really liked the thought of giving energy and stealing energy and how it could benefit me when I begin my character work on a new book. Thanks.

    1. Hey "older writer" (that moniker made me laugh!)! At least we are old enough (and healthy enough!) to remember it! The passage about energy feeding and stealing often comes back to mind, since I experience it in extreme every so often.

  3. My critique group is also my support! Each of the amazing ladies I meet with weekly constantly give of themselves to help each other find success!

  4. My family has almost zero interest in my writing, nor can they envision what I hope for down the road. That in itself can be an energy drain. So I turn to my crit partner, who totally gets my writing, shares my enthusiasm as well as the occasional sense of "what the hell am I doing this for?" And it goes both ways equally. Writers MUST have someone to share the experience with. Writing may be thought of as a solitary endeavor, but it's actually not. Not by a long shot. Thanks, Kathryn, for the reminder.

    1. Your comment reminds me of an important point, Densie. We often use our CPs for commiseration only, when really, we can not only shore each other up, but between us, build a bonfire. Why settle for less? So glad you have found what you need!

  5. OMG, Kathryn! Did you infiltrate my family? 😉
    Wonderful post on so many levels. Thank you.

    1. Dang, you saw through my research techniques, lol. Thing is at least one of these will sound familiar, because we all use them when we're depleted. If you have the whole shebang in your family, I suggest writing at a lovely igloo nook in Alaska!

  6. I am your husband. I used to "cave" until my husband said once, after years of frustration, "I don't know what's wrong. I can't help if you won't tell me. I'm not a mind reader, you know." I have such a wonderful support team for my mind, body and soul. Just sending gratitude out with their names-Laura, Anne, Ann, Marcia. Thanks for a wonderful post, Kathryn.

  7. My husband, although I don't think he'd believe it. He is endlessly supportive of my writing ambitions. And it's not just fluffy feel good support. It's, what do we need to do so you can write/study/build a business/gain readers support.

    1. Oh how I love this comment! Bless your husband for cementing your marriage - and enhancing your chances for success - with his pragmatic faith and love.

  8. Everyone seems to wonder why I haven't finished my book. This post makes me wonder what type of vibe I'm giving off that makes them act the way they do. Great thought provoking post.

    1. Interesting question, Alice, but one that immediately struck a thought: if you are anything like me, even you don't know when it will be done! If you're writing on contract, it will be done at the deadline, ready or not. But how many of us have announced all over Facebook that we are "done," tearfully thanking all for their support, only to have a major revelation the next week thanks to the back burner work our brain conducted while we were away from the project? We are in a highly competitive industry; unless it pulls the story right off its rails, we'd be fools not to incorporate the fresh insight.

      Each book is an open-ended, learn-as-you-go proposition. We don't know we're at the end until all clicks into place. It sounds like you are open to the process - good for you. That may be the vibe they are picking up, which can be confusing to someone whose projects are more concrete.

  9. Kathryn,

    I love where you took this post, but it seemed to leave the title. It was more about what we don't bring our support team. Perhaps you have a 2.0 post in the wings about balancing these traits we each have. You do hint at the need to turn it around in the last paragraph. I agree, an agent or anyone we want to get the best from responds when we bring our best.

    If we choose to live with someone, it is important, no, essential to come to know (and eventually make friends with) our energy suck capability, otherwise we just--if I may say--suck. And some of us suck our writing partners dry. Listening is a good trait. Finding delight at how we suck also helps (self-deprecation.)

    I have a supportive lady who waits so patiently for me to say, let me read you this. It's her great gift to me. I try to repay her (and avoid placing myself in debt to the process) by not falling into moods about how painful it is some days. Just let the process roll off my back, knowing tomorrow is another trudge in a long migration.

    1. Hi Tom, you busted me! It's a constant challenge to punch my big ideas into 800 words or less. For now, simply raising the expectation that you will bring something to your partnerships other than a book, and recognizing the ways you may be doing the opposite, was my goal. A 2.0 post is a great idea, thanks!

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