On Wednesday, I'm going to post on reciprocity. The sort of tit-for-tat that makes the world go 'round.
Today I'll tell you a story to get your thoughts going. I have a friend, Brigid Kemmerer. She's a writer. When I joined the social networking world last November, Brigid, though we do not share an agent or agency or anything like that, was one of the first people to reach out to me. We tweeted at each other occasionally, gchatted occasionally, and read and commented on each other's blogs. We traded book recommendations. Nothing much, just a few exchanges.
But then, a few months ago, Brigid asked me to read some of her stuff. She was wrestling with the sequel to ELEMENTAL (which will be released by KTeen in May 2012) and she wanted an objective critical eye. She had drawn the conclusion that I had one, and so she very nicely, very hesitantly, very humbly asked me if I would do this for her.
Now, this got me thinking about reciprocity. And writers. When you read someone's writing, do they automatically owe you? Does it matter if you offer or if they ask? Are there rules about this stuff? What are they? When do they work? When do they create awkwardness and resentment? What are the factors involved? Published vs. unpublished? Agented vs. unagented?
There's one more factor I've been thinking about. Sheer enjoyment. See, Brigid sent me ELEMENTAL, and ... I loved it. I loved it so darn much that I'm going to do a whole blog post on it as we near its May 2012 release, even though it doesn't involve any in-depth mental health topics. There's just something about it. I had a huge grin on my face through most of the book. I still remember some of the lines word-for-word for their utter awesomeness, and I'm not a person who remembers quotes. I had to stop a few times and email Brigid to communicate my adoration of her writing and characters. By the time I was done, I was dying to read the sequel, and she sent me the first half or so, because that's what she needed me to read in the first place. I loved that, too.
At this point, I would read anything Brigid writes, no strings attached, and I've made that clear. But still ... she kept offering to read things of mine. And, heck, I'm human. I took her up on it!
How do you negotiate this, my friends? Do you ever say no to people who ask you to read their manuscripts? Do you ever ask people to read your stuff with no intention of reading theirs? Do you automatically offer? Do you offer because you want to or because you feel obligated? Have you read people's work without the expectation that they'll read yours? Does it hover at the back of your mind? Do you ever offer to read someone else's stuff for the sheer pleasure of it, even though they see it as a favor? Do you ever resent when someone asks you?
Of course, it's Monday, so this is your reminder to check out the ever-amazing Lydia's Medical Monday post and the always-awesome Laura's Mental Health Monday post.