friends

Are we 'Friends'?

Image by  Florentia Buckingham , Pixabay

Image by Florentia Buckingham, Pixabay

There are a few people I knew, growing up, who I don’t see any more. For whatever reason, they have disappeared from my life.

I was talking about one friend in particular, who’d I’d known from school. In all, I think I’ve known her …48 years. God, it seems - well it is - a lifetime. But we don’t speak any more. I get cards, Christmas, birthday. But nothing else. No texts. No calls.

Just…stopping

I’ll admit, having tried to keep the contact going, my confusion and bewilderment turned to hurt. I’ve now simply stopped trying to get in touch. I think I’ve deleted her number. I did this while remembering all the times she turned up on my doorstep after yet another failed relationship, where I fed her ice-cream, helped boost her confidence and generally held her hands until the hurt went away.

Although I don’t think I knew it at the time, when she turned her back on me for another friend, it was the end for me. In my head, I began divorce proceedings, finding other friends, and writing her out of my life. One New Year, not so long ago, I made a resolution to only spend time with people who loved me.

A friend is…?

Talking about this with other friends, we got into a discussion about what friends actually were. There were lots of areas of agreement. It doesn’t matter that friends don’t see one another for ages - it’s about the contact and warmth when you get together. It doesn’t matter if you disagree - people do it all the time. It doesn’t matter if you argue - friends make it up, however clumsily.

What constitutes a friend, we decided, were two things. One, they don’t hurt you, they’re not purposefully cruel. Two, they always have your best interests at heart, and you know that. You may not agree, they may be wrong about what constitutes your best interests, but in their hearts, they only want you to be happy, and fulfilled.

Moving on

She’s in lots of photos of the key moments in my life - my wedding, my second wedding, major birthdays… But now I’ve decided that I don’t recognise her as a friend, and will simply wish her well and stop mourning what was. I’m not quite sure what would happen if she got in contact, but I think I’d rather not welcome her back. It feels, now I think about it, like an abusive relationship.

And the best place to be in abusive relationships is out of them.

You've got to have friends

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It’s been a while. My last post was seven months ago.  After an absence of that long, it’s embarrassing to post again. But a couple of things have made me grit my teeth and hit the keyboard again.

The first was a lovely comment from Carmelita D Brooker (@Evadene2016 on Twitter) who said: 'Enjoying the blogs on your site, Sara.'

The second was a blog on stage fright for writers from the wonderful Stella Duffy. If Stella Duffy, with 17 novels to her name, suffers from stage fright before writing a new one, I think I'm at least in good company.

Like many writers, I often doubt that my writing has merit. I find that writing a blog multiplies this.  It's something about the need to be punchy, smart, for there to be a pay-off in less than 300 words, when my natural style is a bit more...relaxed.

In a bit of a tweet exchange, where I said I wasn't sure my blogs were sufficiently interesting, Stella urged me to do it anyway:

It's impossible to know that though, right? If you concentrate on how interesting it is for YOU, then at least you've pleased one person! With any luck the rest will follow.

As a result, this blog is about support, and how it often comes from the most distant of places. For example, while my family loves me and is (generally) supportive, they see my writing as simply a hobby - not something that is really important to me. Their feedback on my first book has been lukewarm at best, dismissive at worst. My mother decided she's wait until the book was on the shelves before reading it. This was despite me saying that I'd probably self-publish and that an actual physical book is highly unlikely.

One of my friends gave me 'feedback' on an early draft without - I discovered - having read it all the way through. Others have said it wasn't 'their kind of book'. I do understand this. As one Twitter posting put it, 'You can make the best cup of coffee in the world and some people will always prefer tea.'

Therefore it comes as a rather emotional surprise when people who have only the slightest connection to you, come out with flags waving and words of comfort and encouragement.

Writers understand the trials of other writers. My good friend Jess Ryder who has a string of thrillers to her name, has been incredibly supportive and generous with time and advice. I find support on author groups too; I recently posted a note to say I'd completed another chapter of book two and within minutes there were comments and congratulations.

I've discovered that writers, regardless of how famous, published or not; writers of romance, thrillers, literary fiction, even some genres I'd never heard of until I saw their postings; they understand my triumphs, however tiny they sound to my family and friends who have escaped the writing bug. They also understand the fears, the unhelpful comparisons, the sense of being not-quite-legitimate.

So to all the writers, the wqould-be writers, the writers who also work another job, the stumbling, the revising, the editing and pitching writers, the writers helping other writers - thank you for your support.

Now I'm off to finish another chapter and practise my own flag waving skills.