A Friend in Social Distance

One of my writing heroines is author Jennifer Ashley. If all she’d done was write The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie, she would have my undying respect, because that book took the romance genre is a new and wonderful direction. (Autism spectrum historical romance hero, done beautifully.) Jennifer has also weathered many industry storms, she shares her time and wisdom generously with other authors, and she has perfected the art of being herself on social media.

Much there to admire, and one of her recent Facebook posts was along the lines of, “I walked 2.5 miles this morning and it was nothing’. There was a time when that would have been an unthinkable challenge. I’m proud of myself for how far I’ve come!” That attitude, of being proud of an achievement many other people might think was a big so-what, fortifies me to go on my own 2.5 miles walks and be proud of myself.

Joanna Bourne is another personal heroine. To look at Jo, you’d think, “Sweet little old lady. She probably knits baby blankets for her myriad great-nieces and great-nephews, and makes her own organic low-sugar jam.” Meanwhile, Jo has lived (as in for years at a time) in seven different countries (including Nigeria and Saudi Arabia), has a master’s degree in marine biology, bagged two RITA awards, and can tell you stories about life in the foreign service that will make your jaw drop.

She’s also a brilliant, generous, funny, highly creative writer, and when I was a tadpole author, she offered me much steadying advice and writin’ buddy friendship. I found my balance as a writer much faster and with much less drama than I would have otherwise because of Jo.

I am a rabid fan of writing coach, agent, author, and teacher Donald Maass. He is passionately devoted to helping authors turn good books into better books, which is a thankless and exacting task on a good day. Don works enormously hard at what he does, which means unique among the writing coach crowd, his material is always being refreshed. Unlike many, he’s not giving the same workshop (for more money) that he was tossing out ten years ago.

As I spend day after day after day at home, I am still fortified by my associations with these people and others like them. Some I bounce across on social media, some I can visit by reading their books. Some I can email, and I am so very, exceedingly grateful that technology allows me these contacts. I am alone, and I’m never alone, and the company I’ve met along the way continues to cheer me.

Whom do you admire? Is there anybody in particular whose company has cheered you along the way this year? To two commenters, I’ll send a signed print copy of My Heart’s True Delight.

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17 comments on “A Friend in Social Distance

  1. 1
    AnnG says:

    My friend Gabe for pushing through after a car accident damaged his spine& left him in a wheelchair & our mutual friend James who like ne, is a stroke survivor;
    Both inspire me to push myself harder each day

  2. 2
    Marianne says:

    Grace Burrowes’ blog has punctuated my year. I appreciate the thoughtful questions. I also value the responses. I also wait for Natalie Raynes’ music.

  3. 3
    Teenie Marie says:

    There are many folks I admire and look up to, this year and every year. I was able to see one of my first conducting teachers about a month ago. Unfortunately I saw her at a concert (with masks, socially distanced etc.) honoring her recently deceased son. I met her grandchildren and it was lovely to catch up briefly, though sad since I remember her pregnancy with her child. 🙁 D.R. has always been an inspiration to me and nice to see her after many years.

  4. 4
    Make Kay says:

    I admire Michelle Obama. I like her ethnics and her activism. I like her using her voice to amplify others that need to be heard. I like her sense of civic duty. What a wonderful lady

  5. 5
    Beth says:

    Maria Connor literally kept me alive through the plague time. When we were on lockdown & I had to have food & medicine post medical procedure but found myself living between delivery zones, she drove almost an hour each way from the next county over to haul me to appointments, bring supplies, & on one horrific occasion, cross-crossed the county between pharmacies while I bled on her passenger seat to find the necessary prescription in stock that the idiot surgeon’s staff waited to call in until 4PM on a Friday as I was being discharged. Needless to say it was NOT in stock when we reached the pharmacy. Honorable mention to her son, whom she was supposed to pick up from work after dropping me off, but ended up patiently waiting close to 3 hours outside until she got me dosed, the bleeding stopped, & settled in bed with an ice pack. Additional honorable mention to her husband, who brought me a pallet of dented cans his shipper couldn’t deliver to the grocery store by regulation due to the damage, but which fed me the entire year until now. I may just be the Bubba Gump of canned beans by now, I’ve found so many ways to use them.

    Likewise, my neighbor, who prefers to remain anonymous. He mows & edges my little domain for gas money, but also handles lightbulb changes on my 16 foot ceilings & battery swaps for the smoke alarms likewise perched far beyond my ability to reach. He’s secured broken windows for me ahead of storms, spotted & repaired a broken irrigation pipe behind my garage that would’ve washed out the corner of the foundation before I ever noticed it, & even managed to persuade the armadillo nesting under my house to move along. (Gravel + layers of cayenne pepper in the burrow) Snake season is signaled by his delivery of a box of mothballs to sprinkle around my doors and porch as we appreciate our living pest control, but prefer not to share the sunny spots with copperheads or souther diamondbacks.

    I’m surrounded by mostly good neighbors & find most people are nice when not tired, stressed, or being harassed by unending protesters. Is there anything less likely to convince a body than know it all youngsters screaming obscenities through a loudspeaker & making rude gestures usually reserved for toddlers incapable of more mature means of communication? But these two awesome people stood out in this dumpster fire of a year & kept me going.

  6. 6
    bn100 says:

    Mom because she’s always supportive

  7. 7
    Pam says:

    Aw, that was a wonderful post. I also read Jennifer Ashley and Joanna Bourne’s books, and Ian’s book is one of my favorites. I’ve read it so many times.

    I am fortunate to have 5 siblings, and have been regularly emailing and talking with a few of them. I have some reading buddies on Goodreads and visit there regularly.

    I will be going back into work regularly with my other coworkers next week (masked), so I’ll be back around that group of people regularly … although that is a mixed blessing lol. I enjoyed working from home.

    So, sisters, reading buddies and I keep up with many many cousins and some friends on Facebook.

  8. 8
    Susan G says:

    My friend Kim checks in with me every day at work. Working remotely has its challenges and it’s nice to hear from a friend during the work week. I miss grabbing a cup of tea and walking with her at lunch The daily IMs keep our friendship going.

    My neighbor Lee is a huge support. We walk and talk about everything and nothing!! I look forward to our walks and her positive energy…it runs off on me !

    My sister and I text and chat more. She works remotely and had a lot of great suggestions to get set up and to get on a schedule.
    And we talk about everything.

    I look forward to your blog too. Your honestly inspires me. I have learned that it’s ok to be out of sorts when you are longing for Spring to arrive and that fuzzy wool socks are a huge part of WFH wardrobe…and they are WARM!

    Take care and have a great week.

  9. 9
    Glenda M says:

    THe most basic answer is that I am so grateful that my husband and I not only love each other, but we like each other too! These months have not been a horrible hardship since we are together and still get along with each other. He is working and spends most of his days on Zoom calls, while I do my thing around the house and run necessary errands. He still steps in and does the heavy lifting and other things that’ll aggravate my neck and back – and helps with other house work and cooking. And he doesn’t complain (no matter how bitchy I get because of the pain).

    Outside of the home I have a great deal of respect for my firefighter, medical police, and retail friends who have not stopped going in to work every day to keep the rest of us – and our pets – fed, safe, and happy.

    Stay safe, Grace!

  10. 10
    Brenda U.K says:

    When I first moved here four years ago I met my next door neighbour six months later because she spends her winters in India.Other people had told me she was an eccentric lady and complained a lot.So I did not know what to expect.She loves to dress in Indian style clothes and wears lots of bangles.Well educated and very aware of the world and her travels are extensive.A kind and helpful lady who has helped me navigate the issues of business and finance and dealing with men who love to give you a load of bull___t when talking to a elderly on her own woman.We have had some amazing chats and have become good neighbours during the lockdown.An English lady who owned restaurants in London and Norfolk before she retired.She loves to hear about my life and work so we have some lovely and funny stories to tell.It’s helped a lot during tough times.

  11. 11
    Betsy says:

    Dear Grace, I have to say You, your books, Your world of characters with lives full of challenges and love that triumphs, and this blog too (although only recently discovered by me) has kept me on a more even keel and comforted me through this turbulent and frightening year. Your integrity which shines in everything you write, and insightful posts with pertinent helpful thoughts has expanded my coping ability in the face of rampant insanity (who would imagine a President assuming the election results will be fraudulent well before the election takes place???) Please just keep writing! And keep expanding your Worlds full of wonderful people wrestling with the great questions of life! I look forward to reading…. no…. immersing myself in those worlds again and again. Thank you for believing in Love!

  12. 12
    Sarah says:

    I am so grateful for a couple of old friends with whom I have weekly scheduled interaction. I am pleased that my husband, kids and I still enjoy each other’s company. Maybe not every minute of every day, but most of the time and there is laughter most evenings.

    I am also thankful that you, Grace, keep writing because a new book can really lift my spirits.

  13. 13
    Lil says:

    “whose company has cheered you along the way”

    My response is surely saccharine, but I am going to mention my grandson. My first grandchild was born in early August. I am 72, this is the icing on the cake. My daughter (his mother) has had surgery twice in the last 10 weeks, and I have been in her home on and off for more than 6 weeks. (she lives 200+ miles from me)

    I have had SO much time with the baby. It has been such a bright spot in this truly beleaguered time.

    Life is just so overwhelming right now, but his needs are basic, and actually fillable!

  14. 14
    Amy Ikari says:

    Historically I have always admired Abraham Lincoln, Florence Nightingale and Jane Goodall. Today I admire the average good neighbor or the unsung everybody who just helps out. 2020 has been a challenging year and it is restorative when we can each be kind, compassionate, caring and empathetic. Thank you for your great books. I miss my mom and think of her since she loved books too.