Writing Friendships: A Journey

"The making of friends, who are real friends, is the best token we have of a man's success in life."
Edward Everett Hale

Many believe that writing is a solitary profession. And it is in many respects. However, since I've retired and begun writing full time and having more time to reach out to other writers, I've learned that this sphere of my life has offered me new friendships—ones providing me with new experiences and insights from the other treasured friends I've gathered in my life.

Though we may not have history together, what is so special about these friendships is the bond writers have when talking about writing. Sharing our trials, tribulations, triumphs, rejections and successes can bind us together as surely as history and longevity. A writer friend understands the bubbling excitement when your first book sells. They feel the despair of yet another rejection on a day you've already been dealing with too much life stress. They can help pull apart and rejuvenate a scene that's not working or a character who's flat. And they understand the need for chocolate when all else fails. In fact, if they lived close by, they would probably share their own chocolate—because they've been there.

I appreciate all these new friends. Some I treasure.

One such friend I've never met in person. One such lives in Canada. We have learned we not only share a passion for writing, but also—polar bears. I still remember the day her first book was released and the excited email she sent. While we live several hundred miles apart, I "felt" her exuberance about the event. We've even stayed in "email" contact when she spent several weeks traveling in Wales and England. I vicariously journeyed with her through her emailed photos and descriptions. My goal is to meet her in person some day.

Another dear writer friend I first met online. She lives in another state and we "discovered" each other while we worked together on a project done by email. We shared many experiences: sons, family issues, love of writing, the same birthday month. We've become close friends and at least once a year attend a writing conference or retreat together. Sometimes we just figure out a way to get together for a breakfast or lunch when she's visiting relatives somewhere in the state of Wisconsin. I can always depend on this friend to provide solid advice about dealing with the nitty-gritty of the publishing world and writing. She's also does a great critique when I'm fussing over a chapter or a scene.

Another new friend is one I met at a national writing conference and discovered she lived in my state—though a hundred twenty miles distant from me. We had a quick, pleasant conversation in a hallway and agreed to look for each other at the next conference our writing group held. Next time, we shared longer chats and then emails. A friendship was born. We now travel to a city neither of us knows well to meet about once a month and talk about writing, politics, life, relationships, writing problems, what we are currently writing, the ever-changing markets. We barely stop long enough to enjoy a cup of coffee and the lunch we supposedly met to do. We share the high points of our writing lives, her Golden Heart final this past spring, another contract for her, my first contract, the highs and lows in our personal lives. Writing gave me this woman. For that I'm thankful.

Finally, I've developed relationships with a group of younger women (they could be my daughters and sometimes I refer to them as that) as a result of my writing. Each of them is unique in her own way, and they share a special friendship among themselves. I met one through a phone call to tell her she finaled in a writing contest I coordinated. Lucky phone call for both of us. Then conferences where I met her other friends, one of them, a woman who'd been one of my helpers for an online contest and I had never met her, just emailed her. All of us served on the WisRWA Board together. What these young women give me as I learn to know them better is a delightful glimpse into the lives and world view of women the generation of a daughter I never had. They expand my horizons in the scope of relationships and characterization. They've added so much to my personal life.

Friendship, whether found early or later in life, is a treasure which needs as much nurturing as the tenderest plant. When someone offers you that gift, never abuse it. Instead coddle it in your heart.

"Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive."
Anäis Nin

Mary Jo