Making New Friends is a lot like Writing a Book

Filed under: Pondering, Touching the Surface, Writing

Lately, because we moved this winter, I’ve gotten to watch my kids in the process of making new friends. It’s a lot like writing a book. (Surprise! Yeah, I’m predictable. One day I’m going to tell you something weird and follow it up by announcing that it’s a lot like making a burrito or washing your underwear. Just to keep you on your toes.) Focus Kim–it was a three day weekend and you’re already discombobulated–making new friends is like writing a book.

*Everyone does it differently. I’ve got a three boy control group and what I’m seeing is that everyone has their own process. How one person makes their friendship or writing happen, does not necessarily work for someone else.

*It takes time.  No short cuts. Making acquaintances is not the same as building friendships. Just like a NaNoWriMo draft is not like writing something you can send to your agent.

*There will be false starts and dead ends along the way. Someone can be a laundry list of good things, but not be a great fit. It’s kind of like drafting a list of viable book ideas. Some of those can sound amazing in a one or two sentence pitch, but they fail epically when you try to build characters to support it. Or the plot fizzles out in 3-4 chapters. Not all good things are the right thing. And odds are someone else will be a better fit with “that” friend and another writer will discover the whole story behind the idea that never got off the ground for you.

*Making friends usually depends on shared experiences between people. Tragedy in particular can bond people together. Two kids who get locked in the bathroom of a museum and miss the bus home from the field trip–bonded for life. (And FYI–that did not happen to my kids. I’m a writer. Stellar imagination <3) But emotionally laden experiences push us to write the good words. Tapping into our own range of experiences and feelings brings authenticity to our writing the same way it does to our relationships.

*Making friends takes work and moves us outside our comfort zone. It is a period of being off balance. One of the reason we seek out friendships is to create a bond with someone that gives us a soft place to fall. Writing is like that too. We can talk all we want about writing for publication and the twisted and complicated reasons we choose to dance with the ups and downs of the business. Were masochists! But we must also acknowledge that we write for personal growth and that requires us to be off balance. Uncomfortable. Vulnerable. Yet, by exposing your weaknesses, some how we gain a layer of strength. It’s a risk-taking behavior, both writing and friendship. You make yourself weak to make yourself strong. Exposing your heart to the elements is not an easy thing to do–but the payoffs of living through it are amazing. Courage, despite fear, in friendship and writing is powerful.

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So, it’s been a long and fabulous three day weekend. Now it’s time to write. Or as I like to think of it–make friends with that amazing book inside of you. How else is does connecting with your words feel like building a new friendship? Can you write something without the intimate connection? What piece of work over your lifetime would you consider to be your best friend? Mine would have to be TOUCHING THE SURFACE.

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