Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Reader Stuck in the Middle of Friends

DEAR HARRIETTE: I have two amazing friends. They both are cool, funny and understanding. However, one of them does not like the other. My friend, friend No. 1, does not like friend No. 2. So whenever I talk to or hang out with friend No. 2, I am unable to tell friend No. 1 because I know it will upset her. I love friend No. 1 to pieces; she is basically a sister to me. I tell her everything, but when it comes to friend No. 2, I can’t let her know when we hang out. Friend No. 1 once told me if I ever spoke to friend No. 2 again, she would never talk to me.

Friend No. 1 talks badly about friend No. 2, and I don’t like hearing all the negative things she says about her. I want to tell friend No. 1 that I still hang out with friend No. 2 and we should all just put this aside. Should I tell her? -- Stuck in the Middle

DEAR STUCK IN THE MIDDLE: This is a tough situation that is not uncommon. The issue is how should you handle this. My vote is to make it clear to both friends that you will remain friends with each of them. While you are willing to keep your friendships separate, you are uncomfortable with the ways in which they talk about each other.

You may want to give each friend one more chance to explain why they do not like the other person. Listen carefully to see if you believe that any of their complaints are valid. If so, you can bring up those points to the person in question. After considering your friends’ positions, if you decide to remain friends with both of them, make that crystal-clear to all, and let them know that you are unwilling to continue to listen to them spouting negativity about the other. If you lose a friend in the process, so be it. But you should not have to endure vitriol about people you love. Stand your ground.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a passion for writing. I love to create short stories and share them with others.

Whenever I write, it takes me into a whole new world. It is a way to delve into my creativity. Sometimes I go back to my stories and swap my old ideas for something new or better. However, lately I feel like everything I write is awful. I have this sense that people are lying to me whenever I ask if my stories are OK. A majority of the stuff I write is a bit out of the norm.

I want to be able to write something different than every other writer, but I keep finding my stories generic, boring and unoriginal. I have run out of ideas and been left with writer’s block. My dream is to publish my short stories, but I want to know how to better my writing and gain more confidence. Any suggestions? -- Writer’s Block

DEAR WRITER’S BLOCK: Join a writing workshop where you and the other writers share your work and critique one another with the intention of refining your work. Take a short story writing class at your local community college. Find a professional environment where you can strengthen your skills and gain the confidence you desire.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to askharriette@harriettecole.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)