Derrick Ferguson, Writer-Friend
My name is Elias McClellan and Fiona kindly allowed me to post this article on her blog. All typos and misspellings are my own.
Writer friends are everywhere, you just have to be brave and identify yourself
In 2015, Derrick Ferguson and I became Facebook buddies. Derrick was a multi-genre writer most renowned for his mastery and advocacy of new pulp. He has over a dozen published titles including works featuring the adventures of frontier marshal Bass Reeves as well as his international paladin, Dillion. When Derrick met American Mystery of America Grand Master Walter Mosley, Mr. Mosley immediately mentioned Dillion.
By contrast, aside from some work-related stuff, (dust is not as dry) I’ve never published a word. In fact, as of 2015, after seven years of chasing publication only the meanest ember of my faltering dream still flickered. Yet Derrick found me based on some writer-positive memes I shared on social media.
Writing friends expose one another to work outside of favored genres
Derrick welcomed me into the boon companionship of his Facebook group, Usimi Dero, (named for the mystical land where Dillion was fostered and trained). He introduced me to other members of the group as a fellow writer. More pop-culture hub than anything else, Usimi Dero is a home for a variety of writers, across genres. Amid debates of old TV shows, new movies, and cherished comic books, writing and the journey to publication is the central, if defused focus.
Writing friends share the burden on the road
The best kind of writing friend, Derrick encouraged writing without ever becoming preachy. He, like just about every other writer in the group, had a day job and spent time with his family and (in-real-life) friends. And, like just about every other writer in the group, Derrick carved out time for writing and discussion of writing.
Those discussions sustained me after a dozen rejections, (no less than two of which were face-to-face) sustained me through the kind-but-stinging rejection from my dream agent, and, ultimately the three-month period when I had an agent—only for said agent to stop taking my calls and ignore my emails. Derrick was unflinching in his support. “Never mind that, keep writing,” was the message. Derrick is the reason why I now have the courage to pursue indie-publishing.
Writing friends are about that writing life
A couple of years ago, I left Usime Dero over a divergence of opinions, (means “juvenile/fanboy crap”). Of course I expected my friendship with Derrick to end too. Instead, he continued to trade ideas with me. Me ditching the group wasn’t important to the writing.
Without saying anything at all, Derrick taught me that. It’s not about agents. It’s not about publishers. It’s really not even about sales. Conveying ideas to creation is EVERYTHING.
More fellow companion than mentor, Derrick never claimed to have the answers. He only shared his ideas and his experiences from his journey. Derrick and I never met face-to-face. We didn’t talk every day, we didn’t need to. Our social media threads seldom crossed. Our interests were actually quite independent. Writing was our single common point of interest. And he was a hell of a writing friend.
Writing friends sustain each other
That’s what a writing friend does for your work. They engage you on the topic of creating. More important than chatty encouragement, they keep the act of writing a navigable point in your mind.
To have a writing friend, be a writing friend
Derrick Ferguson died on April 4, 2021. My writing buddy Sean Taylor, (we met through Derrick) said it better than I ever could, “New Pulp just lost one of its finest. To be honest all writing just lost one of its finest.” Derrick would have nodded, introduced us to a new writing friend, and said, “Now, back to the story.”
Derrick lives on in his stories. Check out Derrick’s work here.
The photo above is a promotional photo from Derrick’s Amazon page, used for information purposes and not for profit or sale. Fair use applies.