Kindred Friends

I just had coffee with a free-lance editor, and it was amazing.

About three or four weeks ago, Jocelyn, a newish friend at church, told me she has a friend who edits and is involved in the publishing industry. She thought her friend and I should meet and talk about editing my manuscript and/or helping to connect me with small publishers/graphic designers who could do my cover art if I self-publish/publicists…

I said that would be great, but I wasn’t overwhelmingly excited. I basically looked at it as an opportunity that would likely be a non-event in the big scheme of things.

I’d begun to feel pretty relaxed about my manuscript. I was working on a re-write of it that I was adamant would be the last one. Whatever came of this re-write, I intended to move on and write something else. I intended to query a handful of agents, then just go ahead and self-publish the thing if no one wanted to walk through the process with me.

After several years of work on this manuscript, after querying agents, after researching the industry, after working on my platform… I just don’t get overly hopeful about any of it. I’m unimpressed with opportunities, because they nearly always seem to flop in the end.

Enter Jocelyn. She’s sort of a distant friend. She and I have talked/texted several times about getting together, but nothing has really come of it. I honestly half-expected her to forget about trying to connect me with her editor friend. However, she dutifully gave me Kelcey’s info and gave Kelcey my info.

At that juncture in time, I thought I’d wait a week or two until I was a little more settled at my new job before contacting Kelcey. However, Kelcey ended up contacting me, which was nice. I often feel like my efforts to build friendships go unreciprocated. Sometimes that’s fine. Sometimes, I can take an alarming amount of rejection without being phased. Right now, however, I just haven’t felt like working harder at things than anyone else is working. So, honestly, if Kelcey hadn’t taken the reins, this may have never happened. Thank God she did, because we decided to get coffee.

We planned it super far in advance, and I didn’t think much about it. It was just a slot on my calendar that was filled. Then, we finally met at Raging Sage, which is an excellent local coffee shop. Kelcey got there first and got us a table outside.

When I first saw her, I actually thought we wouldn’t be a great fit, because she’s thin and has super-short hair. I know that’s a stupid thing to think and is beyond logic, but it’s what I thought. My first impression of Kelcey could probably be summed up with the word “dainty.” I have never conceived of myself as dainty, so I had an instant belief that she and I couldn’t possibly have anything in common.

However, Kelcey began talking and my prejudice quickly changed. She has a strong interest in mental health. She feels like God has been dismantling her lately. She wrote a journal entry in her tween years about how she wanted to grow up to be an editor. She recently lost some close friends to a move to another city and some sort of emotional mess that she didn’t describe in detail. She mentioned going into an angry-at-You, God- phase, during which, she stopped attending church and had a bit of a break-down.

And I could relate to all of it. Also, I loved the sense of vulnerability Kelcey brought to the table on the very first time we met.

About thirty minutes in, I thought, “Okay, this might be okay.” I thought we might be able to get along working on my manuscript, which is saying a lot, because I feel incredibly possessive and protective of Madi and Wes. The thought of including a stranger in their growth and… for lack of a better word: sanctification, is horrifying. I don’t have any problem sharing Madi, Wes and their story with readers, but letting anyone have input in their lives is a whole other thing.

I think that may explain the snap judgment of believing that Kelcey’s thinness and hair signified a mismatch. I may have wanted her to be the wrong person, because I desperately fear entrusting my characters to her… or anyone.

Once I had given an explanation of my writing to Kelcey, she seemed really interested. She said great things about my ideas, and she was pretty up-front about saying she believes God has brought me into her life.

We decided that she should write up a contract for us and send it to me so that I could consider the partnership.

Then, we just continued talking… and she quoted The Office.

She talked about the time she spent working as a lumberjack in Oregon, and she didn’t seem quite so dainty anymore.

She mentioned her tattoo that’s written in Elvish and says that not all those who wander are lost… and is enormous.

Then she said she likes to Cosplay.

Then she talked about her blog.

Then she told me her husband loves comics.

That’s when I decided that she and I need to be besties, and we talked about possibly attending Phoenix ComiCon together.

She also mentioned feeling alienated lately and really wanting to find friends.

And that’s when it hit me: I miss Ashly so much.

I think maybe it’s the word “bestie” that got to me. It’s a word I started using to and about Ashly because of the show Big Bang Theory. There’s this hilarious character who sort of pushes the bestie label on someone who definitely isn’t a bestie. And it cracks me up. She has this HUGE portrait made of the two of them, then tries to hang it in a super public place. She says really inappropriate things about the “bestie” and it reaches a creep factor of 12. And it’s hilarious. She is the character on the show who I most relate to, which maybe sounds like I’m insulting myself, but, really, she’s a great character.

When I had the thought of, “Kelcey and I should be besties,” is just…

Lauren once said that Ashly and I speak our own language. She and I will get going about a book or a movie sometimes, and nothing anyone else says even seems valid. Ashly is the literary, nerdy wise sister I always craved. She’s humble and caring. She always tries to go beyond even what’s fair to make people feel loved and at peace. She’s attended ComiCon with me, read my manuscript, prayed, and she has been a kindred spirit.

And then, I unintentionally called Kelcey a kindred spirit when she and I were talking. Which sucks, because I don’t even know if she knows why that’s such an important term. Ashly knows. She could explain that it’s how Ann-with-an-e referred to her own bestie, Diana. It’s a term of endearment planted deeply in the love of story that Ashly and I share.

I know this sounds stupid, but Ashly reads Harry Potter the same way I read it. There is something magical about that common love for story and fantasy that extends far beyond J K Rowling’s books. Finding Ashly was finding a person who perceives the world as I perceive it.

Ashly and I have our differences, but even so, I always felt like she and I understood each other in an uncommon way. I felt like we appreciated each other in an uncommon way. And I’ve deeply felt the loss of her in my life for the past few months.

After getting coffee with Kelcey, she and I walked over to a comic shop together – a comic shop I’ve only ever been in alone or with Ashly.

I feel a defensiveness of Ashly against myself. I feel adamant that Ashly could never be replaced, and spending time with Kelcey seems a little like an attempt to fill the Ashly void in my life.

Of course, it isn’t like that. Ashly was blessed with a new friendship almost immediately after moving to CA, and I didn’t resent or lament that; I was so happy for her. Still, it’s an ache to have to move forward. The friendship isn’t over, but it’s changing, and I wish it could remain the same.

Still, it’s nice to know that there are people out there who perceive the world in the same way I perceive it. Kelcey may truly be a kindred spirit, and maybe there’s hope that the three of us can attend ComiCon together.


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