Saturday, May 13, 2006

Changing Friendships

During my married life, I and my husband have moved quite frequently as his expertise is needed in different parts of the country by the company he’s worked for since 1982. While I enjoy the chance to experience first hand life in a different area, moving from one state to another brings a host of challenges. Obviously, the first one is setting up a new household. Once the house is located and purchased, the utilities need to be connected, kids registered at school, grocery stores located, etc.

The biggest challenge though is to meet new friends. When we first moved to Tennessee, my daughter was in the U.S. Pony Club, so she was able to make friends through joining the local club. My son made friends at school. My husband has his coworkers; he doesn’t make friends easily.

Yet, the moms of my daughter’s friends were not my friends. Here’s where I knew I needed to connect with other writers. Enter the RWA and the Southern Magic and Heart of Dixie chapters.

At the first meeting I attended, I was welcomed with such open arms that I felt at home immediately. I didn’t have to think long to decide that being a member of a supportive and instructional writing group was worth the cost or the time it took to drive to the meetings.

The second biggest challenge of moving is holding on to the friends left behind. We tried to keep in touch, believe me, through e-mail, Christmas cards, sporadic visits back to the previous hometown. Eventually the friendship has little or nothing to sustain it. No common experiences. No shared friends to catch up on. Thus the friend slips away. I do still have one friend from high school that I've managed to hold onto, thankfully!

At the HOD luncheon a few weeks ago, during the bustling charity book signing, I found myself wondering if the friendships we share within our chapters, within our families and circle of non-writing friends, alter after we become published. I know that, personally, I look up to the published romance authors as mentors, as guides, as an example of what is possible. Yet, my innate shyness reins in my enthusiasm, lest I embarrass the newly published or sagely published with my inadvertent gushing or stammering.

Friendships, like any relationship, require nurturing, honesty, support, and understanding of what the other is experiencing.

I truly hope that the friendships I’ve found within the two chapters continue to grow and mature over many years to come. But is there a change that occurs once you become published? (By the way, I’m not suggesting that anyone becomes jealous or resentful, I’ve never seen that, rather that (like me) they treat you with new respect, perhaps a touch of awe.)

To the newly published, have you noticed friends or family treating you differently? Or the same?

To those of you who have been published multiple times, what have your experiences been? What do I have to look forward to when (I like to think positive) I’m published in romance?


Paula said...

I'm very newly published, and I really haven't noticed much difference in the way people treat me. I'm not sure why that is, unless maybe it's because, hopefully, *I* haven't changed the way I behave just because I've crossed that line between unpublished and published.

It's been a really pleasant experience for me so far, because my writer friends have been unfailingly supportive and happy for me.

Carla Swafford said...

Though I’m not published, I can comment on the other end. Having at least four people I consider friends that have become published the past year and a half, I haven’t noticed a change in their personalities. Of course, you’re thinking, give them time. I don’t believe I have anything to worry about. These four authors are some of the most giving and intellect people I know. The only difference I’ve seen is that they have confidence in what they say and become even more generous with their knowledge and time. I have seen that their deadlines can be harrowing to them as before they only created their own deadlines. Maybe I’m just plain lucky in knowing them. Thank you Kelley, Paula, Jennifer and Linda.

Betty said...

I have noticed the same thing with recently newly published authors. Whew! I'm glad that there isn't any expectation of changing or anything. I just want to stay me the same way I think they have stayed true to themselves. Thanks!