Dear Agony Editor,
A good friend of mine has been an avid supporter of my writing career. He always asks what I’m working on, comes to my launches, and makes a point of buying my books. My issue? He’s never actually said anything about my books. Zero. Nada. Zip. Does this mean he hasn’t read them or doesn’t like them? It’s weighing on me. I’d like to bring it up with him but want to be tactful. How do I approach this?
Silence isn’t golden
I think most writers have a friend like yours. Or several. They make a big deal about your upcoming book, ask you lots of questions, even tweet a photo of your book’s cover along with “Can’t wait to dive in!!!” And then it’s like they make a pact, bury your book, and vow never to repeat its name again. What’s up with that?
I understand your frustration. In terms of the reason behind your friend’s silence, there could be a number of factors. It could be that he hasn’t read your books – which would suck. But that’s about him, not you. Or he doesn’t connect to your work. Or maybe he doesn’t know how to talk to you about your writing, or (wrongly) assumes that you don’t want to discuss it. As far as how you should address the issue, I say don’t.
There are all kinds of unspoken territories between friends that shouldn’t be discussed because of the possible implications or strain they could add to a relationship. Bringing up the issue of his silence could, in fact, create more tension than it’s worth. Does his opinion really matter that much to you? What if you don’t like what he has to say?
If I were you, I would ask myself how much I value this person’s friendship. From what you’ve said, your friend has been there for you. So accept that for what it’s worth. The situation would be different if he were ignoring your writing career altogether. If I were you, I’d take the high road and give his silence – and whatever the reasons for that silence – a pass.