Sunday, October 8, 2017

The New Face of Friendship by Andrea Downing

I’m dashing this off in the short few days between visitors, so you’ll have to excuse me if this post seems rushed.  The guests who just left included a fellow author and her husband, people I had never met in person but—at least with the wife who I’ll call A (changing the names to protect the innocent!!)—with whom I’d corresponded regularly for some time.  Some time?  I think it’s more than two years now.  For whatever reason, we’d never got around to speaking on the phone, never Skyped or Facetimed, yet knew what each other’s kids were doing, the foibles of neighbors, the illnesses we had, the traumas of too hot or too cold weather in our respective regions, and, needless to say, had repeatedly ranted to each other about the problems of being an author in this day and age and trying to sell books. So, when A arrived with hubby in tow, it was more like a reunion than a first time meeting, more like continuing where we left off than who the hell are you?  As A has written to me, it was “not at all weird because we exchange so many emails that all was as I expected.”
So this has got me thinking.  The way we make friends seems to have subtly changed or, if not exactly changed, found a new inlet.  It used to be that the bonds of friendship were forged in childhood, or perhaps in school as kids or outside the school gates waiting for our own kids, or maybe with neighbors or folks we met in a club or other organization, and through introductions or matchmaking. This still happens, of course, but enter the digital world with instant correspondence through emails, IMs, texts and so on, and bingo! We forge friendships with people we’ve never met, might not even know what they look like (since so many seem to use dogs or other family pets as avatars) nor ever hear their voice, yet somehow develop genuine rapport and bonds with them, travel with them through their ups and downs, highs and lows, and miss them when they don’t write.
Have we entered The Twilight Zone? What exactly constitutes friendship?
Through history there are tales of long correspondences between people who never meet yet seem to find common ground that develops a literary friendship.  And then there have been mail order brides who formed intimate relationships after the sparsest communications.  But this is now and I’m not talking marriage.  We are a wary, suspicious lot for the most part, used to taking every precaution before going out the door, ever fearful of hoaxes and scams.  Internet match-making is known to have its pitfalls, yet internet friendship seems to be alive and well, possibly because it develops at a natural pace with no objective other than sharing—sharing thoughts, ideas, news, complaints, rants, and information.  And if the chance occurs to meet up, or at least talk face to face, so much the better.
 For me, this recent meeting worked out very well and I enjoyed myself immensely.  As A said, there was no ‘weirdness’.  But I’m wondering what others have experienced in the line of internet friendship, and what those experiences have been?  Please tell all. There may be a story in it for me.
In the meantime, the story that was in me has come out along with that of one of my newly minted friends. If you're looking for your Hallowe'en reading, you could do no better than to get a copy From the Files of Nat Tremayne: Two Tales of Hauntings in the Old West by myself and Patti Sherry-Crews. Available through all good ebook sellers, and on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Files-Nat-Tremayne-Tales-Hauntings-ebook/dp/B0767HWT6S/  
The Wild West gets even wilder when Nat Tremayne sends out his agents from Psychic Specters Investigations offices in St. Louis and Denver. Across country and across time, these agents will stop at nothing to unravel the mysteries that beset poor unsuspecting ranchers and cowboys who have no idea what they're seeing . . .or not, as the case may be.
In The Ghost and The Bridegroom, P.S.I. Agent Healy Harrison is sent to Tucson to rid a rancher of the ghost in the bedroom interfering in his marriage to a mail-order bride. Healy doesn't think she's destined for romance--until she meets Pinkerton detective Aaron Turrell. But when their two cases dovetail, will their newfound love survive the ultimate showdown  between mortal and immortal.

In Long A Ghost and Far Away, agent Dudley Worksop aims to unravel the mystery of Colby Gates' dead wife. Lizzie not only seems to have reappeared as a ghost, but has time traveled from 2016 to the 1800s. Can revenge be had for her murder? And can the couple be reunited across country and across time?
These stories originally appeared in The Good, The Bad, and The Ghostly.





17 comments:

Jannine Gallant said...

It is sort of strange how we feel like we know a few of our author friends, generally those we've never met in person, better than people we've been friends with for years. Margo and I "met" in 2010 when we were part of the group of authors writing books for TWRP's Class of '85 series. That whole group bonded in ways I never saw in other joint series projects. I'm not sure exactly when we became critique partners, but it's been years (5-ish?). We communicate by email pretty much on a daily basis. I know all about her kids, grandkids, etc. and she is fully updated on what my family is doing. There's something about this immediate, symbiotic, pen-pal relationship with someone who understands my writing ups and downs that helps ground me as an author. We've never met in person, but I expect it would be like hanging out with an old friend. There are several Roses in our group here that I feel I know well, and I'd love to meet them in person. That's one of the reasons Alison and I have tried to put together some sort of retreat. It would be wonderful to take the bond we already share to a face to face level. Great post, and I'm so happy to hear you got to meet one of your writing buddies in person, Andi!

Andrea Downing said...

Thanks Jannine. I wonder if the friendship through email might possibly be strong through the feeling we can share things with people we're not making eye contact with--I wonder if that is part of it. Yet meeting face to face does add that extra dimension.

Rolynn Anderson said...

Listen, if it weren't for you women, I'd probably given this business up YEARS ago. I'm persistent by nature, but this is the most confounding business imaginable. We prop each other up, share ideas, read/review each other's work, and generally root each other on. Brenda, Andi, JL and I get to meet up; face-to-face is important and fun, of course, but by now we've bonded with people and don't have to meet them to believe they care about us and our work. I mean, one of my 'friends,' a golfer, introduced me to a new golfer and said, 'Rolynn writes trashy novels.' The next week in a form of apology she said, "I was just kidding, you know that; but it's amazing you've found a genre to write in that sells.' Seriously? She proceeded to ruin any apology with that condescending statement. Heavy sigh, here, moving to a growl, knowing that family members including my husband, might be supportive, but wouldn't read my stories. Not to lose my point: I'm still plugging away because of you guys...and I'm here for you, too. We mush on together!

Andrea Downing said...

Rolynn, I'm astounded at that comment about 'trashy' novels--Jeez. How did you keep your mouth shut? Or didn't you?. I think I would have been so dumbfounded I'd have been standing there with my mouth hanging open. But then, part of the 'problem'-- if that's the word-- is that the long standing friends don't know where 'we're coming from'--it's not the basis upon which those friendships were formed. Maybe that's why in this incarnation we so easily make friends with our like-minded cohorts.

Rolynn Anderson said...

Yes on the mouth hanging open...hard to respond boldly when being introduced to a stranger who is supposed to be welcomed. Geesh! Does one have to be a writer to understand another writer (or creative artist)? Maybe people who are not working hard on an art can't identify with us. I just watched the documentary on Spielberg. He was bullied, lacked confidence, etc., early on...wasn't an easy ride for him. But he made friends with other young directors like Lucas, who supported him. He says their belief in him was crucial.

Jannine Gallant said...

I think a lot of us have experienced disparaging remarks about what we write from friends who simply don't respect what we do. I remember a local friend asking me why I didn't write real books instead of romance. I pointed out that romance sells better than any other genre, and that shut her up. I've also heard a lot of comments about how it's just a hobby not a real job since I don't make a living wage at it. I don't understand why people feel it's okay to make insulting remarks about our career choice (yes, that's what it is for me) when they wouldn't walk up to anyone in another profession and cut them down. I agree that's a big reason why we turn to author friends who understand us for support.

Alison Henderson said...

I had a similar experience this summer, Andi, except this was with a fellow (female) writer I barely "know" from Facebook. She messaged me that she, her husband, and their teenage son were coming to our area on vacation and asked for recommendations. We both expressed an interest in meeting, and OG and I ended up taking the whole family to lunch at one of our favorite restaurants. It was a wonderful time. Their son is a car fanatic, and OG let him drive his prized Porsche. The young man was on cloud nine, and his mom and I have stayed in close touch ever since.

As for other internet-based friendships, I truly feel close to several friends I've never met in person--many right here at the ROP. I'd love to get together in person. Maybe someday...

Andrea Downing said...

Rolynn, I didn't know that about Spielberg. I just find it amazing, however, the rudeness of people--as Jannine says, it's amazing that people feel they can make disparaging remarks about romance writing but wouldn't about any other career choice.

Jannine, I think you're right in that we do tend to turn to fellow authors and feel closer to them because they understand us, and are going through the same problems etc. as we. But I wonder, had there been no digital contact, and we were only dependent on letter-writing, would it have been the same?

Alison, nice story--I'll head your way just to try out that car I think! LOL . I think living in a popular tourist area does leave us open to visits more readily than if we, say, live in flyover country. Does that make us more popular with internet friends do you think?

Patti Sherry-Crews said...

This is "A" speaking. Thanks for protecting my innocence. We certainly did have a great time!
A lot of the above comments have given me things to think about especially how the internet has allowed us authors to cheer each other on and share information. I can't imagine doing this all on my own in my mother's time or earlier. I'm sure I would have crumbled long ago. For me the new ways to communicate have kept up with the changes in my life. Gone are the days of spending hours at the park or beach with other mothers with small children and the kind of exchanges that allowed. I started using email when I had my first baby because what can you do at 3 in the morning when you're up with a newborn and only have one hand free? Catch up with all the friends I didn't have time to talk to during the day. But now the kids are grown and I'm busy with my own life I don't have the time I used to have. I hate talking on the phone. I'm a poor listener with a wandering mind. And then you get in these situations where nobody seems to be able to end the call and we drivel on endlessly. So we all switched to email. But now emails are falling away in favor of texts and messaging. It's convenient to get and send replies back at your leisure. I think making NEW friends in cyberspace is in line with the ways so many of our contacts are online now.
In regards are new release, I'm delighted to bring these wonderful stories back to the reading public! I know, writers don't make the money we think we deserve, but looking back at the reviews we got, I'm proud to say we took people places outside their lives and made them happy. People sure did like our stories--a few even wanted more in the series! Glad to have met you, Andi, and working with you is a godsend--truly!

Margo Hoornstra said...

Dare I say it, what Jannine said. The Class of '85ers did bond in a very special way. As an outgrowth of that, she and I are looking at five plus years of friendship and counting (you sent out a call to trade ms, and I responded, dear.) I have no idea how and why our friendship just works, but it does. I think it's because we accept each other as is, even though there are times we can tend to drive each other nuts. What else are true friends for? In addition to cheering each other on, we can suggest, criticize, kick each other in our respective butts when need be, nag. You get the idea. Corresponding on a daily basis, it is strange when one or the other of us misses a day. We have talked on the phone, once, I think for about an hour or two. I''m sure, when we do finally meet in person, it will be much like the emails, relaxed and enjoyable. Yes, our families support us - my youngest daughter has my first book on a shelf in her living room right beside a few best sellers - but they don't always 'get' us, I was lucky, my father was a writer, so I guess I had a leg up on it, too. Like Rolynn, Andi, Jannine, Alison and Patti have said, it's great to support each other. Here's hoping we're fortunate as Andi and Patti, of getting that special face to face. Until then, I can live with, and covet, the on line friendships.

Andrea Downing said...

Ah, Patti, or A, so good to see/read you here and have your take. . . although i think i summed up both our feelings on the meeting in quoting you as it not being weird--we just sort of carried on where we left off. But I also think that, despite the manner of introduction being totally on the page, there has to be some friend-chemistry, something that binds two particular people because, if not, why wouldn't we be making these special friendships with all the others that we're working with (well, you and I might know why in certain instances but I won't go there . . .)

And Margo, I'm wondering if you believe you can say things toJannine via email you might not otherwise say in person? Patti and I rant a lot, not about each other, but about things or even people we have in common. I'm wondering if we would do it quite so much if we were sitting over a cup of coffee trying to read each other's body language or facial expressions.

Andrea Downing said...

PS to above--in Patti's and my case, the special chemistry is definitely our sense of humor I think. I've got emails from her at 1am that had me roaring with laughter. That's what I mean--if we were very different in that respect, even if we were amenable and in agreement about things, perhaps the friendship would not have developed the way it did.

Rolynn Anderson said...

Humor is essential! But I also think some can maintain relationships over e-mail and some are less adept with that media, for whatever reason. I. Am. Lousy. on the phone, just like Patti. I want to say how fun it was to work/meet with Donna and Betsy on separate occasions...along with meet-ups with J.L, Brenda, and Andi. Shoot, I may have met others of you many conferences back...but not since I started writing with RofP...I don't think. I LOOK FORWARD TO A RETREAT...WE NEED TO MAKE THAT HAPPEN!

Andrea Downing said...

Rolynn, I'm not sure about being less adept at emails but I do think some authors are just so focused on themselves and their promo that they don't really give a damn about being friends with or supporting others. and that's fine if that's the way they wish to handle their own careers. Me, I enjoy the interaction with others. So, YES, we should try to have a retreat at some stage and meet up. It would be great.

Alicia Dean said...

Wow, I love this post!! I'm so glad you got to meet A and that she outed herself here. I agree so much! I feel very close to author friends I've only met cyberly (I just invented that word). It's true, when you meet face to face, as I've been lucky to do with a few of my online author friends, there is no 'weirdness' - It's so easy and natural. Excellent way to put it, like a reunion instead of a meeting. :) I definitely hope to meet more of you some day!

Brenda Whiteside said...

Great post! And loved that "A" chimed in. I've met a few people through FB and one is now a good friend. We've even learned our lives have run a parallel course and we have so much in common. My fellow Rose bloggers...I consider you my friends. Yeah, life sure has changed. Making friends has changed along with stalkers and the "yucks" of people we meet. And how about re-meeting. My sister is now married to the man who was the best man at her first marriage 47 years ago. They were out of touch for over 40 years. Thanks to FB.

Diane Burton said...

I thought I commented on Sunday. I remember reading the post. Ah, memory. It's going fast LOL I love connecting with writers who become friends via the internet. Love the pictures Daughter posts on FB of her kids. Same with nieces & nephews, esp. those who live far away. Instant communication is great. No waiting for the mail carrier to deliver letters. Most of all, I love the friendships I've made with fellow writers. Getting to know you all has been great.