May also be read as ‘Wing Man’. This term was explained to me by Gay Haldeman, the wonderful wife of author Joe Haldeman at a World Fantasy Conference I attended one year. Gay told me that a ‘wing-chick’ is that person who is there for you to support you when you are in action. I found I liked it so much I resolved to be that for several writer friends I know, as well as hoping I might aquire a wing-chick of my own. Since then I am honoured to have several wing-chicks and all of them are very dear to me. In my profession, action involves public appearance: readings, presentation, networking and sales. Action also involves writing and production. A wing chick helps with all of these and is more than a muse, a mentor, or a friend. It is possible to have more than one wing-chick and one may be a wing-chick for more than one person. Being a wing-chick is a commitment. You can’t be one unless you care deeply about furthering somebody else’s career. Being a wing-chick is a selfless paying forward of time and effort, but it is also fun. Wing-chicking has so many benefits. You have the pleasure of watching the growth of someone’s career. Of having early and often the first access to reading their work. You gain pleasure from making the path a little easier for your partner by being there at their readings, by their side at conferences, celebrating successes, plugging their work, stepping in and assisting when they need back-up, providing a sympathetic ear, facilitating in every way to the best of your ability. A wing-chick learns while being a wing-chick. Every experience is a chance for taking in knowledge and learning what works in the business and what doesn’t and often applying it to one’s own endeavours.
I think that to understand what it is to have wing-chicks of your own, you must first be a wing-chick yourself and watch other wing-chicks in action. Keep your eyes and ears open at conferences and you will see them in a big group of writers, interjecting a genuine compliment here or a suggestion there. Good wing-chicks do it easily, without being obtrusive, and often while working on their own careers as well.
A wing-chick is appreciated, needed and active. I do not believe I’d be able to keep going without my wing-chicks. I do not ignore them or take them for granted. They are all a stimulating drink of much needed incentive and I try to see them as often as time and finances allow. Thank goodness for social media and email to bridge the gap between re-unions. My wing-chicks/ wing-men are all active writers, but a wing-chick/man could also be a spouse, a family member or a writing partner. In every case it should be somebody who cares about your work almost as much as you do.
Being a wing-chick is freeing for me. It keeps me thinking outside the dimensions of my own creation and within someone else’s. It helps me celebrate another’s genius with delight and enlightenment. I know I will never write the way my author friends do, and they accept my individuality.
So what about you? Who are your wing-chicks? How did you get them? What are the rewards for you?