Saturday, September 13, 2008

My Thoughts On Friendship

Though I would love to be able to say that have more friends than I can count, the truth is I've always been a one friend kind of girl. I've never been the kind of person who wants to go out and socialize or hang out at clubs, though I can certainly understand their appeal. I'd much rather stay at home, putter around the house or hang out with my husband and children. I've honestly never felt compelled to have friends and that doesn't mean I don't like being around people, because I do...I just never felt as though my life was lacking anything because I didn't have an abundance of friends.

I have one girlfriend, Angie, who I have known since grade four. I was the new girl in school and she allowed me to put my desk next to hers. From that point on we have been the best of friends. We have the sort of friendship where we don't have to talk all the time. She lives a few hours away, and whenever she comes to town to visit her mother, we get together. And despite the fact that we may not have talked for months, it's like we've been chatting everyday...conversation flows and as we say goodbye we try to squeeze in a few more precious words until we get to see each other again. Like any true friend, Angie has been there for me through the best of times and the worst. She was there for me during the difficult birth of my third son. She would come to the hospital like clockwork, bringing with her creams and lotion, and my favorite chocolate mint cookies. I leaned on her during those difficult weeks, and she never let me down.

Over the years Angie and I have gotten married and become mothers (her third will be arriving very shortly) and yet through it all we have always made time for one another. We have laughed at how we both like to torture our husbands, get angry over the same things, and we've watched each other succeed at some things and fail at others. She may not always agree with everything I say or do, and I'm sure there have been times where she has wondered what I was thinking, but she has never made me feel foolish. She has stood in the corner and sometimes in the background, and cheered me on nonetheless. I will forever cherish my friendship with her.

Aside from Angie, my only other friend (best friend) is my husband. Without him I wouldn't be the person I am today, have the beautiful children I have, or be as happy as I am. He grounds me and comforts me, and always encourages me to do what I want. He listens to all my crazy plans, and puts up with my moods and emotions. He has had faith in me, even when I haven't.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Just one of the guys...

I am not a tomboy. I’m not a jock.

I think I’ve already mentioned that I like shoes. And shiny things. Sparkly makeup... that kind of stuff... I was captain of the cheerleading squad in high school fer cryin’ out loud! (And I will have to kill you if you tell anyone that, y’know...)

So why then are my close friendships almost overwhelmingly with guys? Hell if I know – but it really takes a bite out of time spent shoe-shopping, let me tell you!

Of course, there are exceptions. The Monster, for example (one of my closest friends ever but – dang it! – she’s in California). Adrienne, for another. Definitely NOT a guy. Danielle? Oh, heck no. But her husband sure is.

Like I said, I have girl-friends, but when I start to count the majority of my friendships, the fog of testosterone rolls on in. My absolute best friend in the world? That would be my boyfriend. Goes without saying, he’s a guy (and, in fact, the last pair of shoes I bought, he picked out – but that was a rare excursion. Normally, shopping with me drives him to utter distraction)...

This is by NO means a complaint. Heck - one of my favourite things to do in the world is hit the pub on Hockey Night and scream along at the big screen with the guys. The Theatre Company I’m involved with is heavily weighted in favour of boys (mostly because we do Shakespeare and the list of Dramatis Personae is almost always dude-heavy – in fact, it’s almost more like a hockey team than a theatre company). And really? I was always more interested in the relationships between the Knights of the Round Table than the one between Guinevere and Lancelot, anyway.

So sure. Interesting observation but what does it mean? Well... I dunno. I think it means that my support system is a little different than that of a lot of other women I know. I don’t get to do heart-to-hearts that often. Or – as I said – anywhere near as much retail therapy as I’d like (boys do NOT understand the intrinsic, spiritual value of browsing, I tell you!)...

But what I get instead is rock-solid, unspoken camaraderie. Or barely spoken: “How’s the book goin’?” “Good. Really good.” “Cool. Don’t stand in front of the TV.”

It’s also funny, then, to me that I now find myself here, grogging along with a bunch of chicks. *grin* And, more to the point, I find myself really enjoying it. It’s kind of a new dynamic for me and I owe you guys (girls!) a debt of gratitude for that friendship.

Of course, I wouldn’t trade my lads for anything. Because, really? If I’m designated to spend my life as one of the boys, I can still count on the fact that I’m usually the cutest one of the boys.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

MySpace is Your Space

I am usually the kind of girl who has a few very close friends that I know really, really well and keep forever, rather than having a ton of friends that I’m not quite as close to. Yes, that translates to: I’m not a social butterfly, but I’m also deeply loyal.

Take, for example, my absolute best friend, Monica. Our friendship began on the first day of kindergarten back in 1983. When I got on the school bus, she was already sitting there. I sat next her, thought she looked like she was nice, and then our friendship started a little something like this.

Me: “I like your blonde hair.”
Her: “Thanks.”
Me: “You wanna be best friends?”
Her: “Umm. Okay.”

And after 25 years, thousands of hours spent playing Barbies, writing plays together, and obsessing over crushes, after lots of bad hairdos (think spiral perm and eighties bangs), matching hot pink and black outfits that we wore to a school dance in 8th grade, college, marriage, babies, and living 3000 miles apart, we are still the best of friends.

So I was a little skeptical about joining some of the social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook, which people recommended I do after I sold my book. I told myself that I had my friends already. And those kinds of sites weren’t really my thing.

But I reluctantly joined. I fixed up my MySpace page with a nice background, and then I became “friends” with my husband, my sister, and three other close friends who live near me!

The truth was, I was terrified of the whole concept of “friending” people on those sites. What if the people said no? Or ignored me? Were there cliques on MySpace and Facebook like there were in high school?

And then, after two virtual “friendless” months, late one night, I decided to go for it and friend another author I’d met in an online writing group. She accepted. So I friended another. And another. And then people started friending me, too. Some of them I knew – old friends from high school and college and grad school that I’d lost touch with. Some of them I didn’t – other writers and reviewers and even people who’d heard about The September Sisters and thought it sounded interesting!

Now, I have to confess, I’ve become a little bit of a Facebook/MySpace addict. There is something incredibly amazing about hearing from an old friend that you haven’t thought of in years, the idea that cyberspace can connect us all, no matter where we live or what we’re doing. As a result of finding each other on MySpace, I even got to have lunch with a friend from high school whom I hadn’t seen in 8 years when she came out to Arizona for a wedding.

It is also really terrific to be able to use the Internet to e-meet new people that I probably never would’ve met otherwise -- like my new cyber-writer friends, The Novel Girls! And I am very, very excited that the world of grogs and social networking sites will allow me to connect with and become cyber-friends with my readers in a few months.

Hmm. Maybe I am turning into the kind of girl who likes having a lot of friends. At least, in cyberspace. So if you’re reading this, stop on by and friend me. I will gleefully accept!


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Friends Should Be A Synonym For Family

My friends ARE my family. I love them and when they enter my heart, they stay there. Fortunately for me, some of my closest friendships were formed young – at five years old – in fact. I went to the same school from kindergarten through twelfth grade, an all-girls school, so the value of a female friend was learned early. The friends I made in kindergarten are still the friends I count on, run to, call in a crisis.

My book, Whistlin’ Dixie In A Nor’easter, has a quartet of childhood best friends as one of the sub-plots. My heroine, Leelee, finds herself in crisis after moving all the way from Tennessee to Vermont only to have her husband abandon her to run their Inn by herself. Leelee’s girlfriends waste no time in jumping to her rescue. They are her family.

I was able to write about those deep, loyal relationships due to the experiences in my own life. When I got “the call” from my literary agent, Holly, that Thomas Dunne Books wanted to buy my book, it just so happened that I had a trip to New York planned the following weekend. Two of my BFF’s that I had known since kindergarten and I had been planning a significant birthday trip to The Big Apple and as a side-trip we had planned to get together with Holly for lunch. Not only did they end up meeting cute, adorable Holly, but we all got to celebrate with my new, cute adorable editor, Katie. That night we ordered champagne at Gramercy Tavern and Wilda and Emily, clinked champagne glasses together with mine to celebrate in one of the most joyous times in my life. We grew up together. Watched our childhoods fly into adolescence and our teens revolve into our twenties. Now . . . ahem . . .in our, I’ll just say later years, we are still walking with each other through our joys, our fears, and thankfully our crazy calamities. We are overly blessed to have one another.

Now for a word about newer friends. Although I’ve only lived in Franklin for 13 years, I feel like I’ve known my Franklin friends forever. They’ve walked with me through the raising of my children, good jobs and bad ones, and some of the most difficult times I’ve known. They are also . . . my family. Even though my family of origin has diminished to just three siblings, whom I love dearly and also consider dear friends, I feel like my extended family of friends is growing by the day. This collaboration with my new Novel Girl friends is one more example of the mystification that life holds about friends. We never know what friendships are waiting to bloom and grow into family. I’m grateful for this opportunity to get to know each of them and share our stories together.


Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Do You Want To Be Writer BFFs? Circle Yes or No

An often-heard cliché is that writing is a lonely profession. And yeah, it totally can be. Long hours spent in front of a computer with no other living organism, late-night editing sessions, countless minutes stuck in your own head while trying to wrestle a plot twist out of the deep recesses of your brain--isolating? Hell yes.


Thanks to the fabulous invention of the interwebz, a writer’s life can now be filled with tons of virtual writing buddies, fantastic beta readers and even a grog membership thrown in there. Sure, writing can be solitary, but it doesn’t have to be.

Through the internet, I’ve found some fabulous writer friends. Some, I’ve toasted when they received a book deal and some I’ve commiserated with when their route to publication took a nasty turn. Whether someone’s writing journey is smooth or bumpy, other writers really are a fantastic support system. There is something so common in the writing experience. No matter if pre-published, hot on the agent-hunt or in the midst of copy-edits, almost all writers can relate to a cringe-worthy first draft or an “A ha!” plotting moment.

And there’s something so special in sharing with other people who know EXACTLY how you’re feeling—how it feels to realize your latest work-in-progress is more worthy of the recycle bin than the best-seller list, or when your main character just won’t SHUT UP in your head. (Please Leah, STOP TALKING for a brief minute.)

So, I just like to say a quick thank-you to all of the fellow writers who have inspired me, motivated me and made me laugh throughout this often soul-crushing journey to publication. And, especially, to my fellow groggers. I’m thrilled to share this amazing time period in our writer lives together!

Monday, September 8, 2008

I'll Be There For You

So. This week, we're talking about friendship. When I began to think about what my friends mean to me, and how they've affected my life--the song, "I'll Be There For You," by the Rembrandts, immediately came to mind.

This song was originally (and specifically) written as the theme song for hit TV show, Friends. It was never meant to be released as a single, but due to public demand, the Rembrandts recorded, and released, a full-length version. And that version hit the Pop Top 20.

Was I a Friends fan? You bet. Even now, years after the show has gone off the air, I remember the friendships depicted in the show. And "I'll Be There For You" sums those relationships up perfectly. But really, I think the lyrics are a perfect representation of ALL good friendships--no matter where you are in your life, your age, or how the world changes around us.

The song opens with:

So no one told you life was gonna be this way
Your job's a joke, you're broke, and your love life's DOA
It's like you're always stuck in second gear
And it hasn't been your day, your week, your month,
or even your year
I'll be there for you
When the rain starts to pour
I'll be there for you
Like I've been there before
I'll be there for you
'Cuz you're there for me too...

If you're like me, just reading the opening verse and the chorus brings the song back into your memory in a flash, but if you want to read the rest of the lyrics, you can HERE. But what I really want to talk about is the meaning of this song--at least how I interpret it.

Which is how, exactly? With good friends, you travel through the ups and downs of life together. Sometimes you laugh together, sometimes you cry. Other times you support, and at times, you lean--needing their support. You plan, you commiserate, you argue, you make up, and you go on. To do it all again. Over and over.

I'm so lucky to have so many real, true, amazing friends in my life. Here's a shout out to them: To Lisa, Natalie, Kim, Connie, Traci, Denise, and Deborah: I love you girls, more than I know how to say.

Thank you for crying with me, for supporting me, for trusting me with your tears. Thank you for laughing with me, for cheering me on, for gabbing, for morning coffee, for late night kicks in the butt, for sharing favorite TV shows, songs, movies, books, recipes, and everything else.

Thank you for knowing when I need an ear, and for knowing when I need to be left alone. Thank you for seeing me in a way I don't see myself, and sharing that view with me. Thank you for all you've already done, and for all you will do as we continue to navigate life together--arm in arm--as friends.

And as the song says, "I'll be there for you. 'Cuz you've been there for me too."

To my new friends, The Novel Girls: Carolyn, Jillian, Lesley, Lisa, and Maureen--I feel oh-so-lucky to walk arm-in-arm with each one of you, as we begin a new path--together.

Let's celebrate friendship!

AND-Over at my blog today, we're also celebrating. It's my dad's birthday, and in honor of HIM, I'm having my first contest EVER. Come check it out!

P.S. For any Blogger experts out there--why does my spacing change all the freaking time? If anyone knows how to fix this formatting issue, I'd be thrilled to hear it, because it's driving me CRAZY! Basically, what happens is, I type out the post, I save it, I preview it, and the spacing is all garbled up. So I fix it. And sometimes it's okay, sometimes it isn't, and I do it again.