Thank you friends

I think I’ve probably said this before, but you know? Bears saying again. 

I came across this quote from another author, one I don’t know, through the Passive Voice (who feels like a friend because I have read him so long, although I have rarely interacted with him directly, and honestly, that’s part of the point of this post) and the author’s words struck me. It’s almost like I could have said them. 

I’ve never been particularly great at making friends. As a woman with both ADHD and autism, small talk is hard, and reading social cues is even harder. I tend to either overshare or clam up entirely, and both have led to plenty of awkward moments that felt mortifying at the time but give me a good laugh when I look back at them. Adolescence was challenging, and masking my neurodivergence always left me exhausted, but taking off that mask and embracing neurodivergent info dumping about special interests and my directness with my peers often left me on the outskirts of social circles. My best friends in middle and high school were the characters in the books I devoured.

Many of these feelings followed me into adulthood. For the first few months after I got my book deal, I was surprised by the loneliness I felt. Granted, this was relatively early in the pandemic, and loneliness was a common issue for many of us, but I felt like a new kid stepping into a cafeteria, unsure where to sit. Was there a table where I even belonged? What nuances did writerly interactions have that I might be missing?” 

I grew up, as I reminded the First Reader tonight, neither fish nor fowl nor good red meat. I was not exposed to things that make the cafeteria metaphor above make sense to me on a visceral level – I can understand it, but that’s based on knowledge of the human pysche and logic, not a personal experience level. Which to be fair is how I interact with rather more of life than I care to admit at times. I’m bad at being human. Sorry. 

We are formed by our early experiences. The environment we grow up in tends to be, when we are mature, the one we feel most comfortable in. No, not always childhood, think beyond that. For one thing the formation of the brain continues until you’re 25, so in my First Reader’s case, a whole lot of his imprinting on a culture was done between 18-25 in the military. Mine? Well, I was a mother twice over by the time I was 25, and had another one on the way (or at least not long after that…) and let me tell you, pregnancy brain is a thing. I was also a member of several vibrant online communities by the time I was 21… homeschooling moms (natural fit for a homeschooled kid), gardeners (I’ve gardened since before I can remember), and readers. Baen’s Bar, that is, the gateway to my writing, this blog in it’s current form, and my marriage. 

My enduring relationships have mostly been online. I have friends. I even have a few friends where I can relax and let down my guard and be thoroughly a geek with. But mostly? I’ve known you, in the comments, for about 16 years now. You’re my friend. And I’m happy you put up with me rambling at you about the oddest things, because that’s what struck my fancy. I’ve been a lonely human most of my life. Working on that. It’s… weird, in meatspace. I’m never quite sure of myself. I’m never certain of my welcome. Did I say the right thing? Smile the right way? Did they want me at all, or was in invited by accident or some sense of obligation and they are just tolerating me… 

Here? I know you came here to see me, the real me in black and white. I see you right back. Thank you. 

10 thoughts on “Thank you friends

  1. My enduring relationships have mostly been online.

    You have a small pack of pre-teen fan girls who are *ridiculously* proud of you, too. 😀

    “Oh, yes, our coloring book was made by a lady mom knows. She mostly writes books, like Vulcan’s Kittens, but she does art, too. They have them on Amazon.”

    I think a couple of their friends thought the girls were fibbing until they looked. 😀

  2. Hmmm. I’m much less insecure about myself than I was as a teen in HS. I blame/ thank the Marines. I doubt you consider me as a friend; (we don’t go back 16), but I think of you as one, though we don’t talk much. I’m sorry you remain uncomfortable in new social situations. Know that I read EVERYTHING you write. FWIW. My much-delayed series is still in progress. I totally rewrote Book One. Rather, I added a book before Book One, based on your comments, and the seriws is better for it now. I can never leave well enough alone. I am writing now ANOTHER Book, 1.5. Think of it as a spin-off, like Lucas writing a Han Solo spinoff before he released the original Star Wars tale. I havw been mind full of the advice that as a new writer, if I want to release a series, I need to have books ready to be released every 90 days for about 18 months. As slow a writer as I am, and prolix to boot, the only way I see to do this is to basically write them all before I release the first one.This deprives me of reader feedback on Books 1 & 2 prior to releasing 4, but we all got crosses to bear.

  3. Thank you for allowing people like me to quietly sit in the corner and enjoy the companionship. You are a treasure.

  4. I keep reading because we are from the same tribe, and when I tell of dining with you and First Reader, I still get a squee tingle.

    Our recent need to recover an ottoman cushion has led to me learning waaaay too much about foam cushions, and I’ve learned that’s OK.

    Thank you for writing and sharing your life.

  5. I was totally thrilled the first time I met you in person. And I’m totally thrilled to hang out with you any time! And I don’t think I’ve ever seen Mike get as comfortable as fast as he’s done with you and First Reader. So, thank you for that!

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