Thursday, September 9, 2010

Writers & Friendship

It would be a gross exaggeration, and a disservice to some fabulous people to claim I had a friendless childhood—I didn't. I had a fair few close friends and was more casual friends with... pretty much everybody. My secret is that I had an overdeveloped sense of empathy, so I was pretty much always nice... or at least never MEAN.

[I'm in the back middle, Peg, middle right]

And a few of my close friends knew me pretty well... probably Peggy best, because we were in the same nursery school class, so friends well before I was WORRIED what people thought—no need to pretend with those people. Plus Peggy is an Aquarius... the sign where anything goes... no judgment, just grooviness.

But MOSTLY I felt like I wasn't really ME. You see, in spite of my breadth and depth of friends, I was a little... uncomfortable in my skin... SHY... no, not shy exactly... well indoctrinated that one should never let it be known you don't have a clue. I was a really good LISTENER... and I think my advice isn't bad, as I DO listen, and try to just ask the right questions unless it is something I know a lot about. But if I didn't have a clue? Until I was about 22 (when I reached a point at which there was very little I was clueless about) I just smiled and nodded. (got me into a little trouble-that).

So What About the PEN FRIENDS

I never ONCE had a pen friend in Brazil who threatened to send me a hat that would shrivel my ears.
*cough *
Seriously though, I started collecting addresses when I was 9. Camp Ne-Wa-Lu (I am sure that's spelled wrong). My early letters were clumsy and inane but when, at 11, I met Melinda, I was READY for a real pen pal... being boy crazy will do that to a girl. Melinda and I proceeded to write weekly (at least) for a decade.

And you know what? She knew more of what was in my heart, of my insecurities, of my dreams, than ANY of my friends I saw on a daily basis. It wasn't that my friends were failing me, it was that I related better with a pen in hand. I always sort of thought that was a failing of mine.


You see... when I was upset... I wrote a letter... even if the person I was upset with was in the next room or a phone call away. It drove some of them crazy. (and from time to time it did).

Oh yes... relationship failing indeed...


Online Friendship

I first dived into online communities at HPANA, a Harry Potter discussion site that at the time I joined in 2005 seemed to mostly be a bunch of middle aged women and teenage boys. Oh, there were some teen girls, too, but the teen girls were interested in the 'ships' (various romantic pairings) where we were talking about WAR! (That would be the Wizard War).

Mostly, we theorized, joked, played... and I made some friends... some women formed a friends group for more personal sharing. We grew closer. One was coming NEAR here... I met her... I started writing fan fiction... made more (similar) friends. I met a couple more HPANA friends when I was on business meetings...

It was all GREAT. It was like I KNEW people. It was never the awkward 'I don't know this person' thing.

And then The Burrow Began

It was like FAMILY, only I LIKED THEM. (kidding, I like my family... but they irritate me more often). But my writer's group DEFINITELY knows me better than my family or personal friends.

Again... I felt a little odd...

And then I started THINKING (you know how dangerous THAT is!) And I started talking to OTHER writers, and I've read several blogs (like this one from Lisa yesterday) that made me realize how I'm NOT that freaky... for a writer...

What do writers do? (not a trick question)-- WE WRITE! Why on earth should it shock us that this is how we bond? That we get closer to each other by writing and reading what each other write... That we in fact share MORE in writing (with each other) than we do with (even our closest) friends. Heck, all of YOU know more than most of my family, or my lifetime friends.

So It's official... I love all o' y'all!


Charmaine Clancy said...

Awwww. *blushes*.

Ted Cross said...

Hey, Charmaine stole my line!

Ted Cross said...

Well, except I wasn't going to blush.

Boonie S said...

We love you too.

Have a nice day, Boonie

Talli Roland said...

AWWWW! I love you too! :) Online friends rock, because I do think we can really be ourselves in this kind of forum, without worrying what people think about our outward self.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

And we are glad to know you, Hart!

cassandrajade said...

True. It also kind of explains why writers like twitter - text based communication.

Jessica Carmen Bell said...

Ah, so glad to be a part of this community too! Seriously, I'd fall into a depressed stupor if I didn't have you all ... :o)

Rayna M. Iyer said...

ayna M. Iyer said...
My younger one went through this phase least year when he refused to wear pants in the house. My mother used to call him the little Nudist- half in jest, but mostly annoyed that he refused to behave. I finally got fed up and said, "His mother's Thursday Twin is a closet nudist, and I am sure he takes after her."
Pindrop silence for a few moments- I am not sure my mother had yet figured out how her daughter could have a twin, when she has only one

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

I love the online writing community! It's so supportive and great about sharing resources--and gives me an opportunity to make great online friends! I have a feeling that writers' online friendships are deeper because of exactly what you mentioned--we're good at expressing ourselves!

Lola Sharp said...

Love you too!! ♡
I do love this wonderful community of writers we have here. :)


Old Kitty said...

Awwww I love the pic of y'all with your pint glasses - yay for beer!! LOL!!

I love you lots too!!! Take care

Clarissa Draper said...

I've glad I've found my online writer friends. They are invaluable.


Hart Johnson said...

Awww man... Feel the love! This is fabulous! See what I mean?!

*giggles at Thursday twins nudist son and baffled mother* I should send my mom to hang out with yours. They can misunderstand us together.

Lisa said...

I know I'm rather new to this blog, but I have been so happy to find my place among writers. You're right - it's no wonder we bond over that. It's who we are.

Thanks for the link!

LTM said...

huh? j/k--awww! I ((heart)) you, too! :o) And it's funny b/c I didn't write my feelings to people as a child, but my oldest does. She leaves notes *everywhere*. And yet I can't get a WORD out of her mouth about how she's feeling... interesting.

I *did* have a pen pal in Tobago. And a friend from camp who lived in New Orleans that I wrote letters to for YEARS. We're FB friends now. Crazy writers.

That brownies picture of you is a hoot, btw. Are you rolling your eyes??? LOL! :D

Erica Mitchell-Spickard said...

I miss having a pen pal, like the really random one you got assigned to in school. It's so crazy how much of a connection there is in a forum such as this. If you told me something like twitter was going to be a hit ten years ago I would have lauged. Although there is much to said about face value, this is a whole new age of meeting and connecting with people and it's been really great making connectios that span the 'verse. AND I <3 you too!

Mason Canyon said...

The neat thing about the online writing community, you guys also include us non-authors and makes us feel welcome.

Thoughts in Progress

Dawn said...

Well, weren't you just a little cutie :-)
I agree - the online writing community is wonderful!I had a pen pal when I was young - we wrote for seven years. I can't even remember why we stopped writing - that is so sad :-(

Simon C. Larter said...

I have NO idea what you're talking about. My wife has never ONCE told me she didn't want to read my blog to find out how I was feeling. Nope. Uh-uh.


Er...yes. O.o

Hart Johnson said...

Lisa-no problem! I thought it was so funny you blogged on meeting a writer friend yesterday when I'd been thinking exactly that!

Leigh-why, erm... YES... I WAS rolling my eyes *shifty* You have a writing daughter!!! YAY for that!

Erica-the face time DOES matter--but to me it seems more SKILL development than bonding *hides*

Mason-you write! You just aren't writing a BOOK. You have a fabulous blog!

Dawn-find your pen pal! (I found mine on Facebook)

Simon *snort* Yeah... hubby won't read the blog... doesn't DESERVE to know how I feel! *cough*

Medeia Sharif said...

Friends, writerly and nonwriterly, in person and online--what would I do without them?

Cold As Heaven said...

Online friends are great. You can easily find people who share your most weird interests and hobbies >:)

Cold As Heaven

Ellie said...

Sending the love to you, too! It is amazing the connection, no pretense, and no body language.
Less judgment, more get to the root of the matter!

Online friends are the best, they don't stop by unannounced and find you nude(had to say that isn't it Naked Thursday ;-D ) They don't borrow
all your sugar and they don't rant n' rave like the neighbors!

It is nice to look back at our roots and see how our foundations were formed! I always doodled, all over everything and had a journal of quotes and words I liked...sometimes sentences in books!

Thanks for sharing; See it was meant to be, soon you will walk among the published, how exciting this will be~ xXx

Roland D. Yeomans said...

We, all of us, are in the solitary confinment of our minds. We reach out through the bars with clumsy things like words. But do words like "friend" and "love" mean to you what they do to me?

There are always shades of gray differences in the meanings of most of the words we use to one another.

But that said, the blogging community of writers allows me not to feel quite so alone. We are all lonely wanderers, sending carrier pigeons to one another in a chain-link of kindred spirits. The dark holds friends in the blogverse.

Thanks for your great comment on my post on my own blog. It meant a lot, Roland

Hart Johnson said...

Medeia-absolutely--ALL the friends! (though I still think those who are willing to READ me get me better)

CaH-Who are you accusing of weird interests and hobbies? (says the nudist)

Ellie- BUT IT IS Naked Thursday! But yes... easier to be naked from my basement... far less staring and mocking... I was a nut for quotes, too.

Roland-It's true words can mean different things to different people and in different contexts. I definitely think though, that at least some portion of these writer interactions have crossed into the arena of what I consider REAL friends--especially if I use definitions like how well someone knows me.

Helena said...

A big bunch of love right back at ya!

If it weren't for online writer pals like you, I'd feel so freaky and lonely. Seriously, I've gotten more support from you, Hart, and other new online friends than (cough) a few relatives and people I thought were my real-life friends. And I KNOW there are a lotta people in our same writerly situation.

Travis Erwin said...

Loved your comment over at Stephen Parrish's blog so thought I'd stop by and check out your blog. glad I did.

Hart Johnson said...

Helena-EXACTLY! My neighbor keeps asking me about my book dedication and wondering where the hubby goes... um... hellooooo... NOT on the book! Sheesh! He is periodically supportive now that there is to be money involved, but he was an unbeliever and has never read a word I wrote! My mom says 'oh that's good,' but doesn't seem to believe 'fiction' is a career. (which it may not be, but she could PRETEND!}

Travis-WELCOME! Always happy to have a new reader! Stephen is fabulous.

February Grace said...

We love you too, Hart! As a life-long pen-pal before the internet existed (I'm a fossil, I tells ya) I just love this post and yes it makes perfect sense to me.

The closest friends I've ever had were ones I routinely exchanged written words with- whether we hung out in 'real life' too or not. Sometimes distance prevented it, other times we'd hang out and still write letters.

You're absolutely correct- we're writers, it's what we do.

Thanks for this post!


Hart Johnson said...

Bru-that's true--I have some real life friends I have written with, and those are the friendships that have had the most longevity... and they end up richer than the friendships that lack that.