Do you prefer old friends or new friends?
I am in the process, maybe, of making some new friends. I have started a writer’s group. I found a group locally, went to one meeting but it folded because the lady running it no longer wished to do so, as it was run as a business. So I started a group by advertising on local social media and we may have a first proper meeting with three members. I will run it, or to be more exact, I hope it will be democratically run, simply for the benefit of writers, keeping it free and fairly regular for as long as possible. What happens at a writer’s group is that everyone reads a bit of what they are writing and gets feedback. Amazingly famous Neil Gaiman is famous for writing with feedback from his readers on social media, though to be fair he is famous for lots of things. When the group I had attended folded I looked up reasonably local groups up to a few towns away but there were so many published rules it was alarming. Huge groups do have to have strict rules on how long the reading can be so everyone gets a chance. So I’m hoping the group will be quite small. A local published writer offered to give a talk if the group numbered ten or more but I think ten might be verging on the number of impossibility.
Now there’s a thought, the number of impossibility. Douglas Adams had the answer to the world the universe and everything as 42, though no one was sure of the question. I have a feeling that might be the age when you suddenly realise it’s going to be downhill all the way but you’re not yet worried enough to, for example, go on a diet or start contributing to a funeral payment plan.
Numbers, quite big numbers, as in ‘how long have we known each other?’ are the stuff of ancient friendships. All mine are miniaturists, though as I have written this for what will be nine years in September, I have gathered some old friends by email that I may never meet but whom I find I care about deeply. The miniaturist friends were gathered at Miniatura, which on a busy day is 6,000 people with the same mindset; you’d have to be a very strange miniaturist (and there have been a few, I know, I interviewed them) not to make friends easily at Miniatura. There were so many people I instantly loved, there was an Australian doll maker who wandered for miles along the barbed wire fencing collecting snagged sheep wool for doll hair. There was a lady making houses out of liquidised corn flake packets. There were clubs knitting houses and everything in them. There were people recycling minis for charity. There have been a lot of brave souls forgetting dreadful life circumstances with creativity. So many admirable people, brave, funny and strong, easy to like though not always easy to talk to, though knowing they came from the same bananas place you did and inhabited the same crackers world was a help. (Can you tell I am writing this at breakfast?)
The problem with old friends at Miniatura was that so many were old and having retired once from reality did it again from miniatures. I keep in touch with a few and consider myself blessed that they reciprocate. Last week I wrote to Kay Curran, wife of arguably the most famous potter working in miniature in the country, Terry. She rang and we had a long chat. It does you so much good just to chat to friends. If you are a long term reader please do email, I answer emails. I’d love to know if you have been reading here since 2009. Whilst I read and reply to emails I don’t always publish them but I will if it’s on the subject of reading JaneLaverick.com
The book is progressing, I had a few days off and tomorrow the grounds man is coming to clear the way for a bigger drive and a lot of work in the back garden. If I can write with a lot of noise, or, probably, where I can write with a lot of noise remains to be seen. Today the cats are going to live with the S&H who wants them back. If they return when the building finishes, time will tell. They are old friends now and I will be so sad to see them go. I started calling myself Mummy to the cats, always a mistake, what am I – a fish loving creature with huge ears who is covered in hair?*
How will I manage without them, how will they manage without me? I had better get busy writing.