“It is not so much our friends’ help that helps us as the confident knowledge that they will help us.”
– Epicurus (341 – 270 BC) Greek philosopher
As a child I had acquaintances more than friends really. Part of the reason was because of where I grew up at. Hollywood has made small town life seem idyllic, but honestly it is far from it. I grew up and spent the first 18 years of my life in a town of 400 people in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains. Families there have been there for generations and memory is long which creates stigmas being attached to some of those families. Of course, I won’t get into that now because this particular blog is about friendship. Suffice to say there was more than one stigma attached to my family. In short I was the kid from the wrong side of the tracks.
It was difficult for me, but there are two people who stick out in my head when I think back on those days. I’ll refer to those people by their initials because I haven’t seen nor spoke to either for over 20 years.
LK was an unusual girl for the clique laden world of the education system. She was one of the popular kids, one hell of a volleyball player, and had a head of fiery red hair. When all the other kids taunted me for my hand-me down, home-made clothing among so many other things too numerous to mention she reached out to me. I didn’t trust her at first; being burned does that to kid. But despite everything she stood by me until our sophomore year in high school when she moved to Texas to live with her dad. I miss her sometimes and to prove a point I still have a birthday gift she gave me in I believe it was the 7th grade.
FM was a guy in the same boat I was in, but for reasons that differed. His mother was a librarian and he was an only child who was being suffocated by his mom. Tortured by the other kids because he was considered a mama’s boy he was an intelligent guy, a gifted musician, and one of the gentlest souls I’ve had the pleasure of knowing. Unfortunately, as we got older my mother and his began plotting to get us together. FM was the only guy I ever went out with, the only date I had in high school, and although we were friends that was as far as it went. We were both utterly embarrassed about our mothers’ shenanigans and understood where we both stood. Not surprisingly the shenanigans didn’t end with graduation and the two of us moving to different parts of the state. Some ten years later both our mothers tried a second time when FM moved to my neck of the woods so to speak. Let’s just say that I probably said things to my mother I shouldn’t have. 😀
My first true friend was my cousin whom I’ve mentioned before. After nearly 25 years of friendship we’re comfortable enough with one another to say pretty much anything, but it was a long road. She was the first person I ever told that I felt I was born to be a writer. She understood the feeling of finding your true calling later in life. She was 35 before she found hers as a MA and now as an Anesthesiologist Assistant.
Friends, true friends, are deeply important to everyone–writers included. When I first started out she was the one who said to me “read everything down to the littlest detail before you sign anything” and “whatever you do, don’t give anyone money”. It wasn’t that I needed the advice, I consider myself a fairly intelligent person, but the fact that she cared enough to give me this advice warmed my heart.
Another friend I have when it comes to my writing career is a wonderful woman and artist, affectionately known as Winnie. She established herself as my personal internet stalker (in the fun way, not the psycho way) long before I began to write professionally. She was shy and nervous at first, but we soon became fast friends. Sadly I have never had the opportunity to meet her in person. She’s on the other side of the world and in a different hemisphere, she’s my fav Aussie, and like a sister to me. We talk as often as possible over Skype and have supported each other through changes in our lives that could tear apart lesser friends.
My greatest wish is that one day I will have the money to make the trek to Australia and knock on her front door just so I can give her the huge hug she deserves. She has been the voice of reason when I wanted to chuck everything and give up on my dream. Supported me through the loss of my mother and the shift of employment among many things. I can rely on the fact she will never blow smoke up my ass and praise me when I suck. Her opinion about every story I unleash upon the reading public is essential. My first book Shadows Beneath was dedicated to Winnie and to my cousin. Without them I wouldn’t have made the leap
Then there’s Tim H. from the lovely state of Tennessee. He came in after I became published. I met Tim, a teacher at one of the local colleges down in his neck of the woods, on Facebook and he was well worth meeting. We don’t talk very often, but when we do it’s about writing and research. If not for him Blood Noir my second full-length novel might never have made it to my editor. He was invaluable with establishing certain aspects of the villain and helped with some of the details that needed hammered out. He was so much help that I dedicated Blood Noir to him when it was published.
And last, but not least are Rhiannon, publisher du jour, and the brilliant Helgaleena, my beloved editor. Without their belief and their guidance I doubt I would have lasted five minutes.
Without my friends I wouldn’t be setting here writing this nor would I be living my dream day by day. In my opinion every writer needs a support network; those people that believe in them, hold them up when they have doubts, and kick their ass when they find themselves trapped in a pity party of their own making. They keep us on the straight and narrow, inspire us, and amuse us. They are our greatest asset both in life and career. They are…