No, not that kind of benefits….

The benefits I’m writing about are the benefits that come of having extraordinarily smart friends. Friends who read. Friends who are willing to read what you write. Friends who, fortunately, like what you write.

Each of these dear ones reads, assimilates and feeds back in a different way. Three of them I had with me last night as we celebrated Melody’s birthday with the Salon. Two of them are farther away, but well within reach of my heart. They all read with an astounding intelligence that takes my breath,

Mary, my wonderful friend of longest tenure, reads with an earnest criticality. Her comments are frank and considered and genuine. Her encouragement is an anchor to keep my craziness from floating away with me. Belinda is a bit harder-eyed. She reads as a city person does. She brings he perspective from two countries. When something isn’t working for her, you know it without question; when she loves something, you find an effusive phone call waiting for you when you get home.

Kristina, the Glorious K, reads with a gentle sweetness and an earnest generosity that are the exact definitions of her nature. My special Mel reads with an enthusiasm that brings a writerly sense to the smart questions she always asks. And Blake, my B-Boy…even talking with him about the book is like a playground for me: Catch his attention with an idea that intrigues him, and his eyes wander after it, multiplying and expanding upon its possibilities like a mathematician doing a complex and mystical calculation in his head.

As writers. we are lucky if we ever get to meet our readers. Luckier still if we get to watch them as they take in what we’ve offered. And luckiest of all if we get to love them, to spend time with them. That kind of friends with benefits. The best kind.