Posted in News and Appearances

Being worth it

The other day these few little words landed in my Facebook Messenger inbox and they were music to my ears.

Just threw away my razor

razor

Now, these words will mean nothing to you unless you know the story behind them. I have found that writing books has brought me into contact with some of most diverse, beautiful, funny and amazing people ever. Old, young, quirky, staid, unusual, comedic and in some cases, downright scary. I have to say I love it all. The people that I find the most rewarding to chat to though are the ones who share things with me that I feel privileged to be part of and humbled that they choose to tell me things and trust me to keep a secret. The young man who wrote those words, let’s call him DA (and he’ll know why), is one of them.

DA lives in North Carolina in the US. He’s in his early twenties, gay and Christian. He comes from a conservative, religious family, attends a conservative University, and faces challenges that perhaps are ones facing other young people but that to him are very personal and unique to his situation. He’s very intelligent, a high achiever scholastically, and from what I know about him (as we’ve never met) he’s a man with a good head on his shoulders and a vision for himself as to where he wants to be in life.

John Stewart

He also self-harmed (I’m using the past tense because when he reads this post, I want him to know how much confidence I have in him keeping his promise to me not to) finding that somehow, that helped him cope. Being gay, a Christian and sometimes not being able to reconcile the two, taking pressure from his peers at school, his family, about his lifestyle and his sexual proclivity, one he didn’t choose but was born with- those are all tough things to live with. He also has bpd- borderline personality disorder, so he suffers from chronic insecurity and low self-worth.  So he has a lot of demons to face.

Gay Christian

We met via a special Facebook group and he was recommended my books by a friend of mine. He read Double Alchemy one and two (yes, there’s the DA reference ), started messaging me about parts of the books, character motivations and had a fascination with the ins and outs of Withinners and magick. And so an online friendship was born out of a story that I wrote and that he loved. If that isn’t enough validation for a writer to feel that she’s making a difference somewhere in someone’s life, then I don’t know what is.

This post is really about two things. One, the ability of stories to bring people together over long distances and make what I hope are long lasting virtual, and hopefully one day face to face, friendships.

Virtual friends 1The other is to validate this young man’s presence in my life and that of others around him and tell them that they are worth every minute. I was never more proud of him than when he sent me that little message. My family thought I was crazy, enthusing about the courage of someone I didn’t even know. (I’m sure we all face that somewhere in our relationships when the online friends we have become so meaningful to us and others perhaps can’t understand it.) But it’s real. It means something to us.

It can be destructive; we all know this and it’s an area we have to be extremely careful in. People have been hurt this way and it’s a never ending battle to keep the traitorous wolves from the door, and from snapping their jaws and tearing our flesh into shreds. But you have to continue taking those leaps of faith. As long as you do your homework and do your best to confirm the person’s existence, and safeguard your feelings and emotions, you should be fine.

This morning DA messaged me, really excited, because he’s found another young man who really likes him and took him out for a romantic dinner and gave him his favourite chocolates. It is early days but it’s a wonderful, positive start and I am so happy for him. Especially when DA says that he believes he’s not worth it and thinks no one can love him. Someone has just proven him wrong.

Chocs

So, to my wonderful DA; I have this to say to you. (Forgive me for all my book title references but I thought they worked in this instance –and actually I don’t care if they sound a bit cheesy J)

You stripped yourself bare, and made a start to saving yourself. You, my friend, are definitely worth keeping and anyone should be honoured to love you senseless. The magic of self-belief and self-validation is a powerful tool and should be used in buckets.

And to all the other people out there suffering from the same insecurities and fears – the same applies to you. Every human being in the world deserves love and happiness and is worth every effort to get them there. Believe in yourself and that you are someone unique and that is the battle half won. You have the right to exist and live as you are, regardless of colour, sexual preference, gender, religion or beliefs and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Of course there are some basic human decencies attached to this- the biggest one being my own personal mantra and the old Wiccan rede, ‘And it harm none, do as ye will’.

rede

Taking beliefs and religions to the extreme and condemning and hurting others is so not cool. ‘Nuff said, as once I get on this soapbox, I won’t come down without a fight. Or a strait jacket.

We cannot let the bigots, zealots and small minded people win the battles that may be fought within ourselves and in society as a whole.

YOU ARE ALL SPECIAL AND YOU MATTER, BOTH TO YOURSELVES AND TO OTHER PEOPLE.

Tattoo this fact on your foreheads (I’m speaking metaphorically so don’t rush out and give the tattoo parlours too much business!) so every time you see it, you’ll remember that you deserve everything that is good and fulfilling in life –you deserve to love and be loved.

And on a final note…

Virtual friends

Posted in News and Appearances

Virtual Friendships – and how they move on

I want to talk a little bit about virtual friendships and making friends via social networks. Yep, those ones you make on Facebook and other social networking sites. Now some people have questioned the use of the word ‘friend’. They say, ‘How can someone you’ve never met be your ‘friend’, someone you only know over the ether waves and even then, you have no idea who they really are.  Man, woman, pervert, paedophile, priest, business man, serial killer….true, you have no idea who they really are. A lot of them you have no idea of their gender, and the number of nom de plumes abound. There are super heroes, book characters, film-stars and even cartoon characters.

friendship

The word friend is defined in the dictionary as ‘a person with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically one exclusive of sexual or family relations.’ It’s a very broad and sweeping definition and in my mind, it certainly applies to those people with whom we strike up a relationship over the social airwaves. I talk to people every day who I consider friends. People who share their stories and their lives with me, their ups and downs, their successes and failures, their daily strife and their dreams and aspirations. I have people I know in ‘real life’ who are not as good as friends as these others.  I have people who know me personally and face to face yet have never bought or read any of my books and aren’t really interested in what I do because it’s out of their comfort zone.

And then I have people who private message me, sending me personal voice messages of support and whenever I’m down, seem to pick up on it and let me know they are thinking of me. Scott Burkett, honey, you know who you are.

Personally, I have made some of the best friends ever via Twitter and Facebook. People who are now face to face friends and where the relationship has developed to such an extent that it gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling. Take my friend Geoffrey Wakeling for example. We met one night about eighteen months ago on Twitter. Geoff was off to visit his boyfriend, Saad in Toronto and I saw something in one of his tweets about being a writer. I tweeted him telling him to have a good time and enjoy his time there, just randomly. He replied, we started chatting, I found out he lived not too far away from me and we planned a get together, a cup of coffee at Westfield Mall in Stratford. Of course, my family were a bit worried, asking me how I could meet a random stranger, a man, all by myself and of course, they had a right to be worried. Geoff could have been anyone despite the fact he probably wasn’t after my body because he was gay. However, my husband travelled with me to Westfield and then after meeting Geoff, and seeing he wasn’t that scary, he left us alone to natter for a few hours. We got on like a house on fire. Since then we’ve met a few times, spoken on Facebook, texted and this whole relationship has culminated in me being a guest at his wedding to Saad next week. Geoff has read my books, been a beta reader for me and is a great source of support. He’s epic (my new buzz word) This was taken at the shopping mall we met at. Sorry it’s a bit fuzzy 🙂

Me and Geoff
Me and Geoff

I then have a great buddy in Baltimore, called Shanella McBeth. She’s a bundle of fire, energy and sass and although I’ve never met her, I feel like I’ve known her forever. We met when I was doing research into pole dancing for my book Waiting for Rain. She introduced herself to me and then introduced me to Steven Retchless – yummy. I found out she was a writer too, we started chatting and now Shanella is the trusted co-admin of the Male Pole dance facebook group. We plan to meet up sooner or later too. She’s read my books, loved my writing. And I know when I’m down, as does she, we can talk to one another, commiserate, swear like troopers and share pornographic pics to cheer each each other up. No I won’t post any here, it’s more than my life’s worth. 😦

I have wonderful fellow authors who give me advice on areas they are more expert in and others, professionals in their field, who do the same and give up their time to make a meaningful contribution to something I’ve written. I have other best -selling authors who give me their time and knowledge and expertise and counsel to try and make me a better and more marketable writer despite the fact they have their own books to promote and their own businesses and lives to live. She knows who she is.

So the next time someone face to face says’ You and your stupid Facebook and Twitter friends, why don’t you get a proper life’, just look them in the eye, and say ‘Have you read my books, the ones I slave over? Have you helped me out recently when I was feeling down, sent me a funny message to cheer me up? Have you heard my tales of woe and actually listened instead of telling me all yours?”

If the answer is No, then don’t feel guilty for having this world of virtual friendships. Whatever keeps you going and happy, it’s worth it if it means something to you.

Keep calm