It’s been a little over a week since I released my first book, a short story compilation that I had the pleasure of writing with two of my best friends, Lisa Bilbrey and Michele Richard. In that time, I’ve done a lot of reflection on how interesting our friendship is.
The three of us met on Facebook, through a mutual love of writing and a series of YA books. Our friendship has blossomed from there. Ironically enough, while I do not hesitate to call them my best friends, I’ve never physically met Lisa, and Chel and I have only visited once, for two and a half days, when she and her family welcomed me into their home. Yet, through the wonder of modern technology, I spend, on average, a minimum of 8-10 hours a day linked with Lisa and Chel.
The three of us have had an on-going chat thread on Skype for almost 11 months now—we never log out of it. Not only do we meet there to plan our compilation books, we also keep each other company while writing, talk about our families, celebrate our accomplishments, support each other through setbacks, and offer a sounding board while we mull through the problems that life hands us. I probably know more about the events in Lisa and Chel’s children’s lives then I do with some members of my own family.
I also have a similar group of friends on Facebook – what can I say, I’m a social person.
I’m not ashamed to admit that I also write fanfiction. It was that guilty pleasure that gave me the courage to create stories that starred characters I created, not manipulate the ones invented by someone else. Through that writing, I have built a support network of forty-five women, ten to fifteen of whom I interact with daily – through my FF fan group, my author’s page, emails, texts, and Skype.
When my mother was hospitalized last year, it was this group of women, along with some other FB friends, who offered me emotional support, expressed their concern for Mom and asked after her daily, and celebrated with me when she was finally released. They also worried with me when she suffered a setback a few weeks later. Through comments on my posts, phone calls, emails, texts, and Skype conversations, they provided me the comfort I needed without empty platitudes. In a nutshell, they were there for me. In return, I try to offer the same for them.
I’ve been told that my Facebook friends aren’t “real” friends because I haven’t met most of them in person. I beg to differ. They are as real to me as any friend who could walk in my front door on a moment’s notice. And through the wonder of the internet, my Facebook group has become a second home, where those friends are welcome to drop in anytime, share a cup of coffee, have a laugh, and hopefully leave feeling better than they did when they first arrived.
The truly fun thing about my “second home”? Spending time with my friends there is not limited by geography or time differences. I have friends from England, Australia, Argentina, and all over the United States. If I’m still awake at 3am, I am guaranteed to find someone else who’s up for a chat, too. I’m pretty sure my “real” friends would not be thrilled if I called them at 3am to discuss my latest plot dilemma, and that’s okay. A status update is like making a phone call, and my “other” friends will usually answer on the first ring.