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Sunday, 23 November 2014

No man is an island. Except, I suppose, the Isle of Man. Why writers need friends...

Now, it's a matter of record that I spend most of my waking hours being curmudgeonly but, at the same time, very enthusiastic and outgoing.  It's probably best if you think of me as a sort of Golden Retriever with a thorn in its paw. 
My approximate face
Also, I spend an enormous amount of time on my own, talking to people who don't exist and yet have very firm and definite views on things and who, in some extreme cases, talk back.

I think you will agree that neither of these states is ideal and that, left to myself, I would wear my pants on my head even more than I do.  I would like the pencils up the nose and the hopping to be taken into consideration in this.  So, you may ask, but probably from a safe distance, what keeps me hanging on to the tiny little bit of sanity that is left to me, by my fingernails and a short, but snappy, amount of knicker-elastic?

Friends, basically.  Work friends, writing friends, old friends that I have known for more years than any of us like to count, but we remember the days before photocopiers, when school handed out Roneo'd sheets that were purple and smelled of alcohol.  RNA friends. New friends.  People whose names I am not certain of, (actually, given my tendency to forget almost anything that isn't written down on the back of my hand, these also occur in the aforementioned groups too...) but whose dogs I know.  People who see me in the street and ask after my writing, or the most recent book and whose faces I vaguely recognise, but cannot remember whether they are friends of friends who I might have met at a party, or someone who serves me in the Post Office.
These are some of my children.  I include this picture to remind myself what they look like in case one of them asks after my writing.  One of them is also a writer.  See if you can guess which one...
Writers need friends.  We need people who will sit and listen while we recount our latest plot ideas in great...great detail, and will occasionally ask pertinent questions.  People who will smile gently at us when we are wandering around talking to ourselves, and wave (again, usually from a distance, it's safer).  We need people we can e-mail, phone or text when life deals us  a hand so disgusting that you wouldn't want to shake it with thick gloves on, people who will give quiet sympathy and not mention that it's two thirty in the morning and they have to be up for work in three hours.  We need people who will discuss man-titty cover designs over wine, people who will sympathise with our general impecuniosity and give us biscuits.

I know I am lucky, because I have all these things.  Friends, I mean, not the biscuits and disgusting hands.  And being friends with a writer is not an easy task (see above, re curmudgeonly, pants on head, talking to self, etc), so if you find yourself inadvertently being friends with a writer, just remember the following points:

Speak slowly (and sometimes fairly loudly)

Make no sudden movements

Carry chocolate at all times

Be prepared to listen to long, long....long and sometimes rambling discourses about the behaviour of people you have never met and may not exist.

If you ask how the writing is going, be prepared to run very fast.  Chocolate is a handy distraction here, a writer cannot pursue you whilst stopping to pick up a large bar of Dairy Milk

Never ask why they haven't given up the day job yet.

And to my friends, thank you.  You know who you are.  Even if I don't.


angela britnell said...

Friends are the best and thank goodness they overlook our craziness!

Clare Chase said...

Friends are definitely very restorative – and so is reading your blog. Love the approximate face! I'm also about to prove I'm not a robot, which is a great feeling. (Right - I failed the first time, worryingly, but am hoping I'll make good this time around.)

Chris Stovell said...

Oh poor Clare (above) failing the robot test the first time!

Wow! What glamorous children you have, Jane, I thought it was a still from some super-trendy show.

Friends, yes, mine have to listen to me moaning about how little money I earn and yet they still come back for more.
Pass the Dairy Milk, will you?

Jane Lovering said...

It's true, isn't it, we tend not to notice what good friends are until something happens and we need them (even if it is to moan about income levels, Chris, I do the same thing!) Although I'm not sure mine actually do overlook my craziness - they look upon me as some kind of entertainment device, but that's fine by me!

And glam children, Chris? Sometimes, they scrub up well, but you should see them first thing on a Sunday morning (ie, about eleven o clock...)

More chocolate all round, I think!

Rosie Dean said...

I don't believe I've driven friends away with my writing angst...yet...

Also, I graze when writing. Actually, I graze when sitting at my laptop not writing but impotently testing potential routes for my heroine to take. It can be chocolate, coffee, crisps, slices of cheese, coffee, toast, biscuits...anything which comes readily to the hand and makes its way to my mouth without much practical intervention. The coffee-pod machine has made brewing so much easier.

It also attracts friends.