Which Came First? The Chicken or The Book?

In yesterday’s jet laggy haze, I forgot to mention/thank/obsess over the guest posts from my new friends last week. Aren’t they great? Didn’t I luck out? Sure, in a year of 52 dates there were some uncomfortable silences and awkward run-ins, but if those six ladies were the end result (and there are plenty more new friends where that came from–I could only host six!), I’m feeling pretty good about the turnout.

First, let me just say, if you are ever feeling all down in the dumps, see if you can find an excuse to have a friend write a blog post about you. Or a note about your friendship. I’m not sure how to go about that if you don’t have a blog–“Please write 500 words about me. Go.”–but there’s got to be a way. Maybe just start a blog so that two years later you can ask your pals to write about your relationship. I’m just saying, those posts made me blush and got me all new-friend crushy like it was the first day we met. A comparison to Orphan Annie? (Who I may or may not have played in a summer camp play when I was a 19-year-old counselor. Just saying.) Why, thank you! The realization that I’m not the only one who thought a mutual love of Harry Potter was a sign from God? Downright fabulous.

I appreciated the words of my new friends, and also the honesty. Especially Taylor, who admitted being taken aback when she learned about my 52-date quest. “I wanted to think that she wanted to have dinner with me…for me,” she wrote. To which I’d say, of course, that I did. While I looked to fill a certain amount of dates, it was more important to me to fill those slots with women who might actually turn out to be my friends. And thank God I kept going until 52–Taylor’s a dream, and, aside from friendship, our connection helped her get a job and me get a brain to pick about the publishing world. Hooray.

After Taylor’s post, one commenter posted this question, a curiosity that others have echoed: “Did the book deal come first or the adventure?” The answer, sort of, is both. Or, I should say, what came very first was a two-and-a-half year run in Chicago of feeling locally friendless and frustrated. I wanted the last-minute brunch call, the Friday night wine buddy, someone nearby whose house I could drop by. As an aspiring author, when I decided to try to my hand at writing a book, this friendship conundrum seemed the only possible topic. The need for a nearby BFF was a longing I couldn’t shake, one I’d spoken with other women about, all of whom felt my pain. The question of how to make new friends as an adult was one that no one spoke of–how embarrassing!–yet no one had figured out. So when I finally decided to put a proposal together, it was born of my very real need for new pals. I wanted it to be a document of my own attempts at new friendship, because I wanted a project to push me out of my comfort zone and force me to do the scary work of meeting new people. Asking out a nice-seeming waitress or renting a friend is something I knew I’d be too chicken to do unless I made it a challenge, something I had to do. (Two years ago, I was not the new-friend approacher I have become. I was a skeptic.) So I crafted a book proposal, kicked off my quest, and a few months later, I sold my book.

That’s the trajectory. The short answer to the commenter’s question is the adventure started first, the book deal came during the quest. My hope is that once people read the book, they’ll see how much success can come of a friend quest and set out on one of their own–book deal or no book deal. But truth is that when I started, with no model to go on, I truly thought the end of the story would be me saying, “People are not open to new pals. Friendliness is a thing of the past. This was the hardest year of my life.” So I was scared to put myself out there and, ultimately, I thought, humiliate myself. (Spoiler alert! That’s not how the book ends! Phew. That would be a downer read.)

How wonderful it is to be wrong.

Would you have thought a friend-quest would result in repeated rejections? Have you ever started a “project” just to force yourself to do something you knew you deep-down wanted to try but were too scared? And, seriously, aren’t my new friends dreamy?



Filed under The Search

7 responses to “Which Came First? The Chicken or The Book?

  1. Megan

    I can’t help but think you lucked out – in SO many ways. The book deal, the awesome new pals, the success of this blog, etc. I’m not so sure I’d do as well, but, if I’m to take a page from your book (which I’m in the process of ordering), ‘never say never!” 🙂

  2. I have said it before, and I’ll say it again, I just don’t feel like I’d have as much luck. But maybe I’m wrong. And, while right now I need to focus on me part of that is going to be a friend search…I’m just not sure when it will start. I also think location has to do with it – I almost feel like since I moved back home, people just expect that I would have friends here, but I don’t really.
    And yes, I definitely start projects to do things that I am scared of. I have participated in NaNoWriMo two years now and this year, I’m participating again, but I’m reaching out. I’ve already started planning and I want to be more clear to the people in my life that I’m doing it – I never really told anyone the past two years.
    And I love your new friends. They all sound like they would be wonderful people to hang out with.

    • I really thought that to. I knew I was someone who COULD have friends–I have plenty in other cities–but I truly thought people would think I was so weird for “asking them out.” I can’t tell you what your experience would be like, but I can tell you that I was totally in your boat and it turned out better than I could have ever expected! And I agree re: location. Since I went to college in Chicago,everyone figured I had plenty of college friends here. So I totally understand your hesitance, but encourage you to go for it!

  3. Your new friends certainly validate their feelings about you. Hard to imagine having so many new women in your life reciprocating and connecting with you on a plethora of levels. Bravo!
    It was fascinating hearing “the dates” from their POV and getting to know you better.

  4. Was that my comment? I was having a terrible week and this cheered me up. Silly right 🙂 or am I totally wrong?

    I like that you had the guts to pursue your dream and make your life a richer experience. You have inspired me and I have really started making an effort to reach out to potential friends.

    Sounds like you have really made some amazing friends. Kudos to you and them for being so open.

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