The Wished for Older Brother

in the living room my dad made
in the living room my dad made

I loved his voice. Most girls did. He flirted with my friend T. and me in a college history class. He flirted with every female in the room and we flirted back–because of that voice. He looked like a tough guy ready to break someone’s leg if ordered.

On a Saturday night in the spring I went to a fraternity party. He was security at the front door. We chatted as he checked my ID, and then I went in to dance. Later, I heard what happened back at the door.

A girl who’d been behind me in line handed him her ID. “Do you know her?” she asked him about me. “She’s an RA in my building. She’s such a bitch.”

There in his security uniform he looked at her calmly. “Yeah, I know her. She’s my sister.”

Ha! From then on several girls in the dormitory believed I had a cop for an older brother. I saw no reason to set them straight.

When you’re sending your work out into the world, it helps to have someone in your corner. We need critical readers who point out the crap and we need people who will cheer us on in spite of the crap. Who defends this crazy creative dream of yours? Is your defender someone you’d expect or a surprise? And really–are you cheering someone on yourself?

4 thoughts on “The Wished for Older Brother

  1. It’s invaluable to have other writers with whom you can talk about wirting! I had a terriffic online critique group which I had to resign from due to time constraints, but doing critiques for very good writers was also a great experience. We need that training-by-doing as writers, because that’s how we develop our skill sets; but we also need the verbal dialog, the discussion, the talks about what feeds and nurtures our writing and imaginations–because that also feeds our inner writers.

    I’ve beta read a couple of novels for people, and I hope it’s helped them. I try to be encouraging. That said, though, I won’t beta read or work with someone who hadn’t got the faintest clue how to write yet. That is for writing courses at uni or community college. (And I don’t say that to be snobbish; they just are too big of a time suck, and I don’t have that kind of teacher role dedication in me.)

  2. I’m not very good at critiquing fiction. I worked as a reader for a literary press for a couple of years and although I always knew what I liked or didn’t like, having to pin it down and explain it was very hard for me to do, and tedious. I have lots of practice editing dissertations, but analyzing the way academic ideas are formulated and expressed seems easier for some reason than fiction. I do have training and experience in helping people with the creative process itself, with what motivates and what blocks artists. That’s my favorite way of offering help. As for who’s in my corner- my husband is both an objective critic and encouraging in his advice- a great combination. I’m never afraid to show him my work, though as time goes on I’m sharing less and less, as I grow more sure of what I’m doing.

  3. What a guy!

    I have had many people cheering me on in my life, and I appreciate them all, although I’ve often wished for a mentor who would be encouraging but very honest with me. Although my husband can’t critique the writing I do (b/c it’s not his thing), he has always been supportive and can really light a fire under me at times. Sometimes it’s welcomed; sometimes not. 🙂

    I try to encourage others, and I think I have in the past. I just don’t know that many other writers right now (offline, that is). I’m always sad when I see talented people who have little faith in themselves.

  4. He is a great guy- a gift after surviving a first, destructive marriage.

    “I’m always sad when I see talented people who have little faith in themselves.” Me too! I remember a woman friend who wrote poems but who never shared her work. She came to me one day, distraught because her church asked to publish one of her poems in their church bulletin. Distraught, not happy, because she was so fearful and insecure about her work. I was very excited for her though, and encouraged her. But she said no to the request, and also began to avoid me, I think because she felt she’d let me down in some way. I guess she wasn’t ready, and I pushed her too hard about something that, to me, didn’t seem like that big a risk but was, obviously, to her.
    We began talking again after a while, but not about writing. I wanted to wrap her up in my arms like a little girl and offer her the praise and encouragement she’d either never had or lost along the way. It takes such courage to create, and to share. But for me, letting the fear win is a kind of defeat that is worse than taking the risk.

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