Holly Venable

Change is not an instant's act . . . one writer's progression


February 6th, 2011

I’ve been thinking a lot about friendships lately, and I was struck by how similar building a relationship is to building a story.

Some Aspects of Building Relationships (by no means a definitive list):
1. Initial meeting and spark of interest.
2. A discovery of common interests and values.
3. Keeping your best foot forward, impressing them with your positive attitude, qualities, and behavior.
4. Developing trust with the slow release of information about your quirks and opinions, gauging the waters as you go.
5. Establishing boundaries and working through moments of perceived frustrations, imbalances, or betrayals.
6. Deciding if the relationship is really worth pursuing.
7. Developing a shared history and deeper trust.
8. Delving into intrinsic personal motivations and values.
9. Understanding exactly how they will act or react in any situation.
10. Being a support when they go through difficult times and leaning on them for support in turn.
11. Sticking by them even when they make decisions that you don’t necessarily agree with (or are adamantly against).
12. Devoting time in your life to maintaining the relationship because they ultimately make you a better person.

And then I start thinking about the types of relationships I have. For example, some of my friendships are situational only (work, school, etc.) and don’t progress much. These relationships are necessary, and I learn things from them. However, I think that we crave relationships that connect on a deeply emotional level. These are the best relationships, the ones that last as the years pass. It doesn’t matter how circumstances change or if you go years without hearing from that person—you can reconnect in an instant and pick up exactly where you left off. I imagine this is how Madeleine L’Engle felt with A Wrinkle in Time or Charlotte Bronte with Jane Eyre. This is Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonsong. This is Ellen Emerson White’s The Road Home and Katherine Paterson’s Bridge to Terebithia. This is C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

I am currently writing a novel, and perhaps I need to ask myself more often how that relationship is developing. I think right now I’m somewhere between stage 2 and 3, which is just fine because it is still new. I don’t want to stop there though. I know that if I keep trying, I will eventually build something that will last. It may be with this novel or it may not (though I will try my best to make it so), but eventually, I will achieve that with one of my novels. So that is what I am aiming for. Isn’t that what we all aim for?

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