My dear friend, Jamie, is editing my blog posts and eventually she will be editing my book. I’m far from being a grammar goddess and Jamie is meticulous in that subject. I’m good at buttering up sentences with dreamy words and she’s excellent at cracking the grammar whip and letting me know when, “it’s not working”.
We met our sophomore year in college while taking a speech & debate course. We were instant study buddies. The two of us whispered and giggled when we should have been paying more attention. She typically sat behind me so she could play with my hair.
We joke about who finally asked who out towards the end
of the semester. I swear it was me.
We’ve been BFFs ever since.
During the editing process I’ve learned a lot. I’ve had to stop prefacing every email with, “Please only do this if you have time”, “Are you sure you want to edit all of this stuff?” or “I’m sorry, I’ve made more changes so I’ve attached an updated copy to this email”. After close to 20 emails, I finally chose to fully accept her help. This is what I wrote:
“I decided to stop apologizing about you editing. Thank you for all that you have done and all that you continue to do.
I appreciate YOU.
This is the realest I’ve ever been with you regarding what I’m writing about and it makes me feel closer to you.”
Little did I know that she had her own insecurities in the editing process. This was her response:
“I love you so much and am so proud of you! I love editing your work and it really makes me feel a part of this, even if I’m just critiquing. Thank you for not apologizing anymore and I’m going to quit saying, “it’s just a suggestion” because I don’t want to offend you by changing your work.”
We are forming a new relationship within our best friendship, a new chapter in our sisterhood. Last night during our phone call we experienced a glowing moment of what it truly means to have your friends edit your work.
The call started off as usual with a lot of catching up and plenty of laughs. Then we chuckled about our most recent email exchange that summed up how we were no longer going to walk on egg shells with each other.
I sarcastically said, “I’m glad we’re not going to stop saying sorry to each other”.
Jamie continued, “I’ve been thinking about this for a while and I want you to know that if you’ve written anything about me, I’m going to be okay with it.”
I laughed and mindlessly said, “Well thank you. But no, no I don’t think there is anything in the book about you.”
Jamie continued talking for a while but had already zoned out her voice. Did I write anything about Jamie in the book? Anything at all? Oh yes. There’s that one part. Oh! And there’s a little blurb about her with that second part.
When I went back to the conversation at hand, the last thing I heard Jamie saying was, “It’ll be alright. I trust you and I trust what you write”.
As I focused my attention back to the call, I quipped, “Well, truth be told, the entire time you were just talking, I was scanning my book in my mind, taking inventory to see if I was lying to you! And I was! My initial reaction was to be polite and tell you no, no you’re not in the book, but that’s not true. There are two parts in the book where I mention you”.
Of course we laughed again. I’m a sucker for honesty even if it means outing myself the moment I fib, intentionally or not.
She didn’t ask for details but I started to give them to her anyway.
“Well, I’m happy to show those two parts to you. We’ve talked about them multiple times in our friendship and I know you would approve. I don’t even think I use your name at either instance. One part is about-” and then I stopped myself, caught up in my thoughts.
I don’t want to tell her like this. This wasn’t the plan. This isn’t how I wanted to share her parts to the book. What should I say?
I laughed out loud for taking myself too seriously. I finished by saying, “Look, I don’t really want to tell you about this stuff right now. I’m caught off-guard! I’m on my way to a massage and now I’m going to be thinking about this the whole time. I think you’ll really like what I’ve said. This is so out of context for me to explain it all right now. I-” ,
Jamie cut me off like a true friend would.
“Whitney, slow down! Slow down! What I said was meant to ease your mind, not stress you out. Think about what I just said. I want you to know that if the book has parts about me I’m perfectly okay with it. I love the way you write. Try not to make this into something you are going to feel anxious about. I just edited your blog about anxiety so take what I said at face value and don’t turn this into something in your mind that it’s not. I’m telling you I love you and whatever you write is okay.”
She knows me so well. Thank God.
We both started laughing. What a worrywart I can be at times!
I followed up, “When we get to editing the book, I will let you know what to expect.”
With a smile, Jamie replied, “Of course you will.”
I said, “Now this is something to blog about.”
Hallelujah for having good friends in our lives to carry us through the invisible burdens we create in our minds.
Here was yet another invitation to be present, another reminder to stay in my heart and not get caught up in my head. I’m blessed to have a friend like Jamie, someone who keeps me straight in a lighthearted way. She’s a wonderful reflection of love.
Writing about people we love isn’t the scary part. This is the part that’s sacred and honest.
The scary part is sharing our work with those same people. Once I became public about my recovery, my truest feelings were placed out on the table about all parts of my life. The best I can do is be gracious with my words and honor everyone I write about in my life. We walk through this world in our own little bubbles yet we all share the same threads of emotion. We’re human.