Recently, I’ve reflected on the vast geographical distances between me and my friends and family, due somewhat to the fact that my son is getting married this summer. Our invited guests stretch across the country and even outside. As the eldest member of Writeonsisters, I lived in a time when my neighborhood was all I knew. The longest trips my family ever took were to New Jersey or Connecticut to visit cousins, and as a child I thought that car trip tedious and endless. But now, we live in a different time and it’s difficult to keep those old relationships vital. And it’s either too expensive or takes too much traveling time to physically stay in touch. If it weren’t for the Internet (sorry, Heather) I’d have lost touch with many important people in my life.
Unfortunately, some of these relationships have essentially become virtual relationships. And, admittedly, aren’t quite the same as the real-life deal. But hey, you do what you can. On the flip side, however, is the opportunity to become fast and close friends with people I’ve never met. If you’d told me a few years ago that I would consider my writer pals at Writeonsisters to be some of my best friends in the world I would have thought you daft.
You know by now that I came to writing late in life and it has forced me onto a new, exciting, and sometimes terrifying, frontier. The desire to hone my writing skills forced me to find writer groups, both online and in the flesh, to attend writing/pitch conferences, and join writing sites; which is where I met my Writeonsisters blogging pals. We’ve shared so much over these last few years, in good times and bad, in triumph and defeat, and it’s not limited to just writing. We talk about our parents, spouses, boyfriends and children, jobs- or lack thereof, health issues, causes, and even our hopes and dreams for the future, and sometimes we just complain about the horrid weather or the cookies we burned.
I never would have made it through this year of two broken ankles without the support and sympathy of my blogger pals, who were always there for me with advice and a cheery thought. They checked on me every day, whereas my real family, well- not so much, being far away and consumed with things like jobs and domestic responsibilities. And then there was the time I crashed and burned at a pitch conference last Spring, totally humiliated by a horrible agent. I went to bed for two whole days. I didn’t even open the blinds. Via email with my gal pals, I ranted and raved, threatened to give up and throw my computer out the window. Eventually they talked me off the cliff and helped restore my sanity and dignity, enabling me to face the writing world once again.
Sometimes I can identify with Manti Te’o and his virtual girlfriend. It’s easy to express your innermost feelings and even get close to someone through your computer. I haven’t gotten quite as committed as Joaquin Phoenix’s character in Her, but I’m close. And it’s hard to believe that I could have forged such intense friendships with three women I’ve never actually met. We live so far away from each other: California, Canada, and New York. I vow that one of these days I’m going to get on a plane and meet them for coffee or a glass of wine, maybe even a bottle. They inspire, educate, evaluate me. They make me smile and laugh, and even promote my work. And without them, well, I never would have
- Realized how many times I slipped point of view
- Described my unique world in enough detail
- Known I over used the word was and countless others
- Seen that I had two characters beginning with the same initial
- Accepted that my word count was too high
- Understood that a sex scene was way too graphic
- Understood that a sex scene was not graphic enough
- Had the nerve to dump an agent who treated me poorly (Oh yeah, there’s more than one!)
- Gotten out of bed that day in April
- Dumped a horrible friend who was taking advantage of me
- Learned how to make that sensational Shepherd’s pie
- Stayed on my diet so I could fit into that dress for the wedding.
Well, this list could be endless, so I’ll stop.
Writers live in a strange world because we work alone, but we do love to socialize with our artistic buddies. We seek out our fellow writers like a thirsty tree spreads its roots to soak up water. Without water the tree won’t flourish and will eventually wither and die, and without my writer pals, well, something in me would wither and die too. I love you guys! And one of these days I’m getting on that plane!
Up Next: Heather with the letter L for Love in YA stories.