Poppy Z. Brite said something in her blog about her friendship with Caitlin Kiernan not too long ago that resonated with me: “For the record, I think authors who are close friends almost always learn a lot from each other.” I think that perfectly encapsulates everything that I have to say about most of my writing friendships, though I thought that I’d focus on one for reasons that will come painfully evident by the end of this post.

It’s probably no secret that Chesya Burke is my best writing friend (I’d normally say “one of my best writing friends” but she’d have no part of that. It’s all or nothing with her.) I often refer to her as my con spouse (with author Simon Wood rounding out our little triumvirate. Sure, he has more publishing credits than Chesya and I combined, but when he’s around her, he has this look … like the husband who finds himself at the mall wondering how he ended up holding his wife’s purse.)

What’s less known is that we can’t stand each other’s writing styles. It’s not as bad as it sounds (well, it is for me since I get to hear the “how dare you not think that everything I crap is gold” tone from the aforementioned literary diva), because we still respect each other’s writing. Because of that, we can see things in each other’s work that the other would be prone to miss. And we have great affection for each other, cushioning the criticisms. Criticisms we delight in heaping on one another, at least judging from our profanity laced crit-sessions (uh, not me, but that Chesya has quite the potty mouth).

For the record, besides trying to take over my new cabal, she’s also been too lazy to have her own blog, so periodically I’m obligated to talk about her. Though, that brings us to the topic for today. Occasionally we bounce career advice off one another. We both have ideas of how we want our careers to go. Very specific ideas. In fact, we can seem rather snotty for two nobody writers. Anyway, typical for one of our phone calls, she calls me up to run an idea by me (or to brag about her latest bit of good news. Have I mentioned that I measure my career not in terms of publishing credits, but only in can I top Chesya moments?). Also typical for our conversation, I go on to explain how wrong-headed she is. One such conversation we were having not too long ago went something like this:

Maurice: You need a blog.
Chesya: Why? I ain’t got nothing to say. You the one that likes to hear himself talk.
Maurice: I’m just saying that it helps to keep your name out there. You didn’t have anything out in 2005.
Chesya: Do you know who I am?

Allow me to digress for a moment. You can pretty much equate Chesya saying “Do you know who I am?” to a drunken redneck saying “Do you think you’re better than me?” It usually precedes a monologue wherein I am reminded that her name is Chesya Burke. Chesya. Burke. The monologue never fails to remind me that we once had a conversation where she thought she should just go by Chesya. Since, well, there can be only one.

Of course.

We went on to bicker for the next half hour, again, typical for our phone conversations. Sadly, we have folks that just follow us around at conventions just to hear us bicker. In fact, my boys always seem to know when it’s her on the phone:

Malcolm (age 3): Why’s Daddy yelling?
Reese (age 4): He’s talking to Chesya.
Malcolm: Oh. Chesya Burke.

After we hang up, she calls me back. She taking my original position, but since she’s saying it, it’s now her idea and thus brilliant. She’s launching a blog. Apparently, as I’ve been told, her name hasn’t been out there enough, you know, besides Poppy Z. Brite name-dropping her. (Lord, I didn’t hear the end of that. Memo to any other big name writers: I need one of you to name-drop me soon. Preferably someone bigger than Poppy or else I’ll get “well, that’s nice, but (so and so) is no Poppy.”)

Anyway, go check her out. She’s got a story to tell. Of course it’s all about her. She’s Chesya Burke.

(By the way, she really loves it when people say the following sentence: “I’m Chesya Burke and I crap gold.” Absolutely loves it. You definitely won’t get an example of her potty mouth.)

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