Monday, September 19, 2011

Help From the Buddy System

Our neighbor has a big green van that is critical to the business his wife runs. With his plumbing work suffering in the current economy, that business has become their primary source of income.

So having the van throw an engine rod a week or so ago was a very bad thing. Without the van, the business simply doesn't function.

The van had just been paid off, and replacing it--even with a used vehicle--was out of the question. Having a shop replace the engine would cost even more than replacing the van. Renting a van to keep the business operating was going to cost over a thousand dollars a week.

It's safe to say that he was in a bit of a pickle.

Fortunately, our neighbor has a network. He's been in the area for a while, and has been active in a number of organizations. It's a rare evening when there aren't a couple of extra Harleys parked out front, and I've lost count of the conversations we've had that he starts by saying, "I was over helpin' my buddy..."

In fact, more than once our neighbor has helped my family with a problem, many times when I was out of town.

So it was no surprise when a small army of capable-looking men appeared and began assessing the situation with the engine. (Okay, they actually looked like a motorcycle gang, but capable nonetheless.) Soon large tools arrived and parts began coming off the van. I noticed that different people seemed to be in charge at different times, each sharing their expertise.

For my part, I donated the use of our sunshade--an important addition even late in the Texas summer.

It took nearly a week of hard work, but by Saturday the old engine had been removed and a rebuilt motor installed in its place. The van was reassembled, and is now running as good as new. All for significantly less money than I would have thought possible.

I was impressed by the way people rallied around our neighbor in his time of need, giving of themselves to do what he couldn't do by himself.

I thought how great it would be if I had a network like that, too. And then I realized that I do.

I am part of an excellent critique group. Recently I have gotten some great feedback on Into The Wind, my sequel to Bumpy Landings. Feedback that will help me take a good story and make it great. Each member has a different perspective; a different area of expertise that they can draw on to help make my writing better.

I'll admit that there are occasions when it's hard for me to use my limited writing time to read through someone else's work. Yet I'm always glad when I do, as I can't help but learn from their work, and there is no doubt that both critiquing and being critiqued has made my writing better.

Crafting a superior story may not be as physically challenging as dropping a big-block Ford V-8, but it's every bit as complicated. And while my critique partners are somewhat lacking in leather and tattoos, they are all extremely capable writers.

I am grateful for the help that I get from my writing buddies. Having a support network can make all of the difference in the world.


Rebecca Talley said...

You mean I've never showed you my tattoo?

Don said...

Which one? The dragon, or the butterfly?

This is why I hedged with the phrase "somewhat lacking." I've seen enough to know that you don't rival my neighbors.

Although now that you mention it, I don't recall ever seeing Braden without long sleeves...

Donna K. Weaver said...

That's an awesome story. I love it when people pull together like that.

And being part of a critique group really does take time. I love my critique group at least as much for what I learn about writing as I read the critiques on others. They pick up things I didn't even think about.