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  • Writer's pictureCherie Claire

Everyone needs a writing buddy

I’m not the biggest fan of book signings. I can speak in front of a crowd, give workshops, teach classes, but sitting in a library or bookstore hawking my books at people is not this introvert’s idea of fun.

My author friend Christee Gabour Atwood (right) is as outgoing as you can get — she once worked as a Universal Studios tour guide! When my library announced that they were hosting an Author’s Alley this month, I asked if she would join me in selling books. Of course I wanted company, especially someone who wasn’t shy about talking to strangers, not to mention that I always need an excuse for us to get together.

"I'll sneak in alcohol," she texted with a laughing emoji.

Note: The Author’s Alley is 2-4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019, at the South Regional Library in Lafayette, Louisiana.

Christee agreed and we were all set, but when the email arrived this week to confirm, we groaned to each other via text.

“I’m scared I’ve moved into the ranks of hermitdom,” Christee wrote to me. “I don’t want to leave my house anymore.”

“Me too,” I conferred, texting while still in my pajamas.

“Aha, I knew I wasn’t alone.”

We then discussed how much social media helps in marketing, especially if you don’t have to leave the house, and what happened to George Bailey once Christmas was over, all his friends had left and he paid that enormous bill.

“I wonder if George went back to being broke a month later and his ceiling caved in and Zuzu needed braces and the car broke down,” I wrote.

“Even more, I keep wanting somebody to kick Uncle Billy’s butt for losing the money,” Christee answered.

Did I mention the two of us have attention spans the size of a mosquito’s (not that I really know what size that is)? Maybe we veered off topic, but here’s my point. It’s nice to have a writing buddy, someone to commiserate with regarding the less glamorous aspects of being an author.

Maybe it’s to share work, to make sure that the hero’s hair doesn’t change colors throughout the book or you’re not going crazy with adjectives. Maybe it’s to network, discuss new agents and editors and what’s selling right now. Or maybe it’s to just discuss your favorite movie.

Writing is a lonely business. Being creative in a world that doesn’t necessarily support such work, either financially or emotionally, can also be tremendously hard on the psyche. Just ask Tennessee Williams, Virginia Wolf and Hunter S. Thompson, all successful writers who took their own lives. I’m not saying writing can be that traumatic, but I’m also saying it could be. Christee and I know that well.

One of John Irving’s character in “The Hotel New Hampshire” kept saying, “Keep passing the open windows.” It was a literary moment I’ve remembered my whole life. When times get frustrating, I think to myself, “Keep passing the open windows, Cherie.”

I mentioned that novel to Christee. Turns out she’s read that book too, and her husband, David, used to end his radio show with that phrase.

Like I said, it’s good to have a writing buddy.

(The following photo is Christee AND David keeping me company at a book signing in their town of Alexandria, Louisiana. Talk about good friends!)

Christee is the author of "In Search of Elastic Waistbands" and "Journal of a Midlife Crisis," both hilarious books, and her latest, "The Book of Me," a vision planner.

I'll be signing my romances and mysteries and a few Louisiana non-fiction books my twin wrote under the name of Chere Dastugue Coen.

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