The imaginary friend
“Writing is a job, a talent, but it’s also the place to go in your head. It is the imaginary friend you drink your tea with in the afternoon.” ― Ann Patchett
I think most everyone who writes can identify with this quote. But for those of us who blog, the line takes on a magnificent blur as the imaginary friend we reach through our writing may, from time to time, step through the mist and become real to us. And for many of us, this might happen again and again, with several different people who read our words, and whose words we read, leaving us with an entire family of friends we might never meet face to face.
Just last week I was exchanging emails with a woman in a distant city whom I know only through this blog. Though she does not blog herself, nor comment very often, she writes to me privately and has sent me several precious tokens of friendship in past years. I was able to tell her in all honesty that, though we had never met, I thought of her as a true friend.
Of course, sometimes we do meet in “real life,” which is a unique and exciting kind of joy. And sometimes the friendships we maintain through writing are the continuation of ties we formed in person when we lived in geographic proximity to each other long ago. But regardless of these details, once the friendship is formed, it flourishes through correspondence as surely as it would in person. As with handwritten letters, online correspondence that leads to friendship cannot be rushed. Instagram and Twitter are fun and sometimes useful, but they can’t connect us to another person deeply with only random soundbites and snapshots. But through emails or blogging, unconfined by a limited number of characters, and set free from geographic borders and boundaries, we can transform the imaginary friends into real ones.
That’s not exactly what Patchett meant, of course; she is referring to the writing itself– the process– becoming the imaginary friend. And I don’t disagree that can happen. But how much more dimensional and vibrant it becomes when that imaginary friend of writing introduces us to all sorts of fascinating people who also love to read, and write, and visit through this historic form of communication that has remained vital from the age of quill pens right up to the era of digitally “instant” contact?
So I invite you to join me at the imaginary tea party that is always going here, or as Sheila and I might say, at various Club Verandah locations all over the world. We can chat and have lots of fun even if we never meet face to face. And if we ever do meet, it will be even more festive and magical.