Some people have dozens of friends - best friends, good friends, see-occasionally friends, friends on a Christmas card list, old friends, new friends,.. Others have only a few friends, maybe one or two best friends, and a handful of acquaintances who are only 'sort of' friends. Some people were popular at school - always had a group of friends, others had one or two, or even no friends.
I'm interested to know how many authors had friends at school, or as a child. I'm curious because I didn't have friends. I had other children I'd play with in my pre-teens but we lost touch when we went from junior school to senior - because they went to a different school, and then two moved away. There were a couple of girls I'd hang around with at secondary school, but looking back why on earth was I friends with them? Neither of them liked the things I liked (horses and reading) because of one, I remember being in tears on several occasions because of her over-the-top (cruel) teasing, which is not good when you are shy, lonely and completely lacking in self-confidence. (Yes honest! That is me until around my mid-twenties!)
It wasn't until I left school and went to work in 1969 (I was 16) that I made a few friends - although all these (many) years later most have fallen by the wayside. I 'lost' a few friends when I moved from London to Devon. I miss them because we used to laugh a lot ... I don't regret moving to Devon though!
My 'best' friend, totally unexpectedly, passed away in 2001. And that's partly why I'm writing this (no it's not a 'feel sorry for me' article! Read on!) She died on October 31st the date when we remember 'the departed' (let's forget about all the rather ridiculous, and purely commercial, ghouls and monsters nonsense - Halloween is a time for remembering friends and family who have passed on. It isn't a time of vampires, trolls or blue-painted monsters.) She went to sleep, never woke up. I miss her. A lot. I need to move on and stop missing her, but it isn't as easy as that is it?
The reason I wonder whether authors often didn't have friends as children is because I did have friends, but they were all fictional ones. My friends were the characters from books, some remain friends to this day: Jill from Ruby Fergusson's Jill's Gymkhana, Will Stanton from Susan Cooper's The Dark Is Rising, Tamzin and Rissa from Monica Edwards' Romney Marsh and Punchbowl Farm series and a plethora of other horsey friends I met in various pony story adventures. They were all real to me, good friends who didn't tease or deliberately get you into trouble with a teacher, or arrange to meet and then not turn up. Fictional characters usually don't let you down.
|My friend, Anna Belfrage and moi|
|Roma Nova Series by Alison Morton|
My own characters are my best mates of course - although again the real people of the past from Harold the King (I Am the Chosen King in the US) and A Hollow Crown (The Forever Queen in the US) were not on quite the same level of 'friends' as Arthur (King Arthur - who probably wasn't a real person) or Jesamiah Acorne, my pirate (who I adore, even when he does grumble and nag!)
I had a best friend who turned out to not be a best friend, I have a best friend who has been a best friend for many years and who now runs my website and has a heart of gold. I have a best friend who lives in North Carolina and is a very special best friend, I have other friends who I met and 'friended' through my writing (not mentioning any names - you all know who you are!)
So there are two things that puzzle me:
One is that recently the friend who died has been in my dreams and in each dream she's telling me to 'go away'. Is this because sub-consciously I am wondering if we were 'best' friends... maybe she didn't feel that I was her best friend? Or is she trying to tell me to 'let go' and move on?
My second curious puzzle: are authors of fiction 'good' authors because we didn't have many friends, so we became adept at making them up and making them very real? Or is it just me feeling a tad over-emotional because I miss the real people who were friends but now aren't, and it's nearly halloween?
Weird things friends, aren't we?