Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Fierce Friends

You know what my FAVORITE relationship is in books? It isn't romance. It's not parents. It's not siblings... On occasion it's grandparents (but more on that tomorrow), but my favorite dynamic—the one with the most fantastic possibilities, is FRIENDSHIP. I think the REASON is that I have some fantastic FRIENDS.

Flawed Filial Foundations

I don't have any real complaints about my family (mother issues aside). In fact I have a fabulous family, albeit filled with freaky quirks. We're not however, short on flaws or neuroses, and THAT is probably why I have always ALSO needed my friends.

When I was in graduate school was my first exposure to the term 'Families of Choice'. Sometimes, even though families have to love and accept us, they don't. But friendships form families with foundations built in love, trust, shared experience—and for any of us with flawed families, which I think is everyone, they can provide a place for that unconditional acceptance we all need.

In my own family, I've never felt unaccepted (except by my mom's refusal to introspect a little when it is desperately needed, and her unwillingness to accept my husband's personhood, but that is, as I said, my only real issue), but there are some skills I NEVER would have learned there.

Foot in Mouth as Fashion: There are two kinds of people in my family. Those that say whatever comes to mind, no matter how rotten, and those who never say a THING no matter how necessary. In between there is an area called 'gentle truth' where a person says what is necessary if it will improve life or relationships, but not MORE because it's just mean to do so. I NEVER would have conquered this among family. (In fact conquering it is why my mother isn't speaking to me—how dare I tell her she needs to learn to be nice or she will alienate her grandkids?)

Fabulous Food: My grandma made the standards well, but I come from Seventh Day Adventists on one side (creative cooking anyone? No meat, but without the Asian/Indian/Italian fallbacks I would take were I to give up meat), and Norwegians on the other (no offense, Mari—other than the sweets, this is not my food of choice). Growing up I was convinced I didn't like any foods mixed together, and there was a LONG LIST of things I didn't like. What do you know... it was just how they were prepared... Friends have filled me in on HOW TO EAT.

Fun and Frolick: Like the foot in mouth versus silent dilemma, I also have alcohol abusers and tea totallers with nobody capable of a nice middle ground. Judgment from both ends (then again, this party girl decided young which set looked more fun, so I was just as judgmental for a good long time). In fact though, there are some people out there who don't fall into either extreme... Baffling.


I'd like to think I am a fierce and faithful friend. I've had people I love go through the trenches, and a few of them, I've pulled back out myself. I am a Cancer, and the story with we crabs, is we will lose a limb before letting go. It's true. Once in my life, you have a permanent spot, and I will go to the mat for you. It makes it very disappointing if someone is needed and doesn't come through, but it also makes for truly deep bonds.

My husband periodically gets annoyed with my loyalty to people I haven't seen for years. He doesn't have relationships like mine (except the one with me), and he doesn't get how a closeness is maintained in spite of time and distance. He REALLY doesn't get how these friendships can be formed into fast and permanent things with people I've NEVER seen face to face, but I'm a woman of words. I've always gotten closest through writing. My pen pals have always known me better than my real life friends. When you tell somebody something, you risk being cut off, made fun or, or misunderstood. When you write it to them, you can say exactly as much or as little as perfectly explains what you mean.

We talk about writing as solitary, but I never finished anything long when I was writing into a void. Feedback from friends filled my confidence and fueled the fires. Fan Fiction formed the foundation, but only because I met others also driven to write, who liked what I wrote and kept encouraging me.

Fictional Friendships

Do you know what the most fun thing about this Cozy gig (that I should hear about this week or next) is? I am getting to write about best friends. The MC is the 'straight' to the over-the-top, outrageous best friend. Man, am I having fun writing both the FRIEND and the FRIENDSHIP. There are some people who get themselves in a bind now and again (including people who end up in the middle of murder investigations) and it is a FUN dynamic to explore.

My other books all seem to have friendship at the core, too (and the periodic false friends, just to keep life and literature interesting)

I think this is one of the reasons I like the Harry Potter series so well. Youth Fiction seems to keep the friendships front and center. Even an egomaniacal genius like Artemis Fowl ends up with tight friendships (after all, experiencing life threatening events together can do that).

So what is your favorite Fictional friendship? I want to know!

And because I'm bad...


The Alliterative Allomorph said...

I have quite a difficult mother too, so I can sympathise. I have not yet told her to get stuffed, because sometimes, when she really wants to she is lovely and does exactly what is needed. Other times, in fact, more often than not, she just blurts out any old thing without thinking first. And she's very stubborn and judgmental - she a Taurus, me a Pisces.

But, anyway, on a good note, I have something for you over at my blog! :)

Cruella Collett said...

*snort* So you're not into lutefisk and smalahovu? Nah... I hear you there. I'm a more continental eater myself. Though you won't ever be able to convince me there is anything quite as lovely as Norwegian strawberries (but then again that is hardly Norwegian COOKING...).

Rae said...

Okay...I read your post four times and still don't remember what it said. (lol) Too busy checking out the photos! Wowsa!

Watery Tart said...

AA: Thank you! And yes... my mom is the doesn't say ANYTHING and I actually find that harder than the 'says rude things' but I LOVE just toying with the thought of telling her to get stuffed from time to time. You know, Americans don't quite have the knack for these phrases that say exactly what they mean *snort*

Mari--right... no fish that tastes like boiled eggs for me *shivers*

Rae *teehee* It's like showing a lot of cleavage when you don't have much to say--nobody will EVER know the difference...

Sugar said...

Thank you my tartiness! Can't remember a word, but friends are awesome. *drool*


As a mother and grandmother I try not to interfere with my familie's lives but should they need me they know I'm there. I once wrote a poem about my 3 children explaining as well as a mother I was also their friend......I hope they never forgotten it.
Loved your blog and dare I say especially the photo's you put on of the young men????
Great "F" BLOG.

Megan said...

Great blog Hart, as usual. And thanks once again for the eye candy. I'm wondering if we're related, your family sounds so much like mine ;)

I also love the friendships in the Potter series. I have similar friendships in the first book I wrote (not yet published of course). But it's a hard question, your favorite fictional friendships. I love Pooh and Piglet. They are the best friends ever.

One of my favorite books is called The Beet Queen by Louise Erdrich. The friendships in that book take a beating, it's an interesting dynamic.

Also like Huck Finn and Jim

Probably the most dedicated of friends are Frodo Baggins and Sam Gamgee from LOTR.

Watery Tart said...

Sugar *snicker* I wonder if I should start taking demographic information to figure out who can concentrate with all the eye candy and who can't... (it's the kind of geek I am)

Yvonne-sounds like you've figured out the mom/grandma role! (my grandma had it down pat... oddly, my mom couldn't get along with her either...) I figure if you raise them to think for themselves, you run the risk you will succeed, which means you need to accept their decisions...

UhOh, Megan-your family put the fun in dysfunctional, too? teehee.

Oh Huck and Jim is a GREAT one! I love friendships that exist in spite of societal obstacles and where somebody really grows from it, and I think Jim teaches Huck a lot--great example!

Marjorie said...

My husband's ENTIRE family are the don't say anything type. I find it so ridiculous I sometimes find myself being the mean.

There was a time when my bother-in-law wanted to name his son something truely horrific. I'm not kidding. I laughed because I thought it was a joke, and then I gave him a real piece of my mind. It's just when a family is so wound up in "supporting" that it goes beyond support and into enabling that's where I draw the line.

I'm generally nice I think, but my Mom is not an enabler and nor am I.

As for the friendships. I love my online friends as well as I love my friends I see all the time.

Huck and Jim are a wonderful example of the power of friendship. I LOVE that book so much.

B. Miller said...

I love writing about friendships too. I created a great best friend for my protagonist, Jack - his name is Grant. My favorite scene with them is when they get together at Grant's house and just play cards. It was a fun, relaxing scene to write!

I also have a "family of choice" - My "brother" Jo and I have known each other for 11 years and we introduce ourselves as siblings.

Great post Hart!! :D

Leanne said...

Mmmm... fairly fond of the fabulous fundament. ;-) Meanwhile, while many of my favourite friend-pairings have been mentioned, how about Kit and Nita from Duane's Young Wizards? Or Percy and Annabelle? Septimus and Jenna? Hmmm... I need to read more grown-up books. ;-) Okay, okay, Salander and Blomkvist. There.

Raquel Byrnes said...

That is so funny. I keep trying to get my mom not to say whatever comes to mind, whenever it comes to mind. Love the bit about your grandma's food...gotta love 'em.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Thanks for visiting Book Dreaming. There are a lot of hot bodies over here! :-)

Watery Tart said...

Marjorie-yeah, I can see not being able to keep my mouth shut too... I always try to 'say it nicely' but with family I am comfortable enough that often I forget to censor.

B. teehee--love the friends being mellow. I have a couple sleepovers in my first book--ghost stories, dissing mean people... nice to just 'chill'

Leanne-yeah, I love Percy and Annabeth, too--though there is a nice bit of sexual tension in there... you know... the teenage kind.

Raquel-teehee--yeah, getting people to censor a little is tricky... though if THEY are being rude, you can at least rudely point it out--another thing I learned from my best friend... something falls out of somebody's mouth and the first thing out of hers is "well that was rude!" (most people eventually learn)

Watery Tart said...

Hey, great to meet you, Shannon! I popped in because I saw you at Rayna's thread (she's my Thursday twin) and saw you were from Montana--I grew up in Idaho. Really liked your blog!

Lola Sharp said...

I too love my friends!
And this is the best blog for man-candy!
You never disappoint...when you're bad, you're so good.

Happy Tuesday,

Watery Tart said...

teehee--Lola, I think we have like minds! I'm so glad you've joined here (and I am sure enjoying your blog)

Anonymous said...

*blush* hehe Thanks, you certainly made up for yesterday :o)

You write such brilliant posts. Talented lady!

Amy said...

The best fictional friends I can think of have already been mentioned - Piglet and Pooh, and Christopher Robin, too! And the little hobbits from LotR, although I don't know the story that well.

Besides the famous trio in HP, how about the Marauders?

Watery Tart said...

Niki, now I'M BLUSHING! Thank you!

Amy, you're right about the Marauders--other that that blasted Peter--learning to become animagi to help their friend the werewolf though--that was real devotion!

And yup--the hobbits are great examples! In the books, it seems Pippin is actually a cousin of sorts... I've only read them once, but that is what strikes me, but Sam is a truly devoted friend.