Sharpening Iron: The Benefits of Clever People

Knives Sheathed

More is better, right? (Photo credit: mrbill)

I wouldn’t be the writer I am without my friends.

Sounds trite, but it’s true. I’m not exactly a social fucking butterfly*, but I’m lucky enough to have collected some interesting people in my life. We eat, drink, make merry, and generally enjoy ourselves. They make life more fun for me, and I like to think I do the same for them. At the very least I’ve probably introduced them to some highly creative swear words.

And as I said, from a completely fucking selfish point of view, they make me a better writer.

I have a group of friends, most of whom aren’t writers, but all of whom are very clever people. And not that kind of clever where every comment is a thinly-veiled blade trying to take a dig at someone. We’re just people with pretty varied interests and good senses of humour who enjoy what I can only describe as the game of conversation. We like being clever, and playing off each other, one thing leading to another, until the expression ‘Well of Souls Ugly’ has become part of the personal group lexicon. By playing like this, and keeping malice out of it, we not only have a lot of fun, but I think we make each other sharper and quicker. Gods know we can just keep rolling on a random tangent for ages at a time. And we kick ass at trivia nights.

Ever heard the old phrase ‘iron sharpens iron’? It works here, too. Those friends of mine make me a better writer because of the way we talk. I get quicker with a turn of phrase. I look at things in a different way. I consider the previously unconsidered. Surrounding yourself with people who push you, who challenge you, who make you work, makes you better.

So surround yourself with the bright and the clever and the non-dickish.** I agree that it’s a tall order; people like that can be hard to come by, and I’m really fucking lucky to have half a dozen or so this damn close. But don’t give up. Try new groups, online meeting places, your local cockroach racing ring…whatever. Those people are out there, somewhere.

And when you find them, have fun.

*Social wasp might be closer: fuck with me and mine and I will sting the hell out of you.
**This last one is key. Too many clever people I know just like to see someone else bleed. They make people feel dumber, not smarter. Seriously, people: stop being assholes to each other. No one wins that game.

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