Friends who understand. Mona Risk, Linda Nightingale, Jianne Carlo, and Mama Mary

Have you given up your life as an individual to take care of your family? We can become so tied to our jobs and our families we forget to have our o
wn lives. Mothers do this more than most people do. Those of us with dreams and passions beyond those others understand have to fight harder. Families want out attention and many of us just give it instead or arguing. Moms feel we must do everything.

When I taught school I had no time for writing or friends who didn't teach at my school or know my husband through photography. As a woman born in the early 1940's, I b
elieved being a good wife mean giving up anything that didn't help my husband, and make me a good daughter, a great mama, and a good teacher.

Mama was the perfect example of the woman I wanted to be. She put us first in every way. She'd do anything we needed, including making sure Daddy went after his dreams and made them her own. I never heard her complain during the years she moved away from her family so Daddy could go to college with three children to support. She was a housewife and proud of it, until daddy needed for her to go to work and support us. She continued to work and became important in her own right. People all over the country, especially the "Baptist South", went to her for help. Though she became an expert, she still let her husband be the important one.

I graduated from college and married in time to escape the "free love" and "do your own thing" period. (Actually, my personality wouldn't have allowed me those freedoms.)

I have no complaints about helping my husband,now my EX, build his Photography business, but I regret that I didn't allow myself to branch out and make more friends. I don't know when I would have done that while taking care of my daughte
r, my parents, and my job. Many days I wondered if I did a good job in any of those areas. I didn't take time to meet other teachers or neighbors for lunch or even read books. There just wasn't money to spend for fun. Things were the way they were because I didn't know I should have taken time for more.

Once I stopped teaching I gave in to my secret passion, writing. I'd been a storyteller all my life, the time had come for me to write stories. There were stories I'd made up for my daughter and family stories I wanted to tell but other stories and characters pushed their way into my mind and took hold.

A stroke of luck sent me to Georgia Romance Writers and Romance Writers of America and friends who wrote stories. I made new friends who understood the characters who interrupted my dreams and entertained me while I drove alone. Some are still my best friends.

Scarlet Pmpernickel and Pamela Varnado

Discovering com
puters led me to the Internet where I found more friends. Now my friends are people who are here for me when I feel like the world isn't working. I've belonged to several critique groups and have made lasting friends though them. When I need a shoulder to cry on because of a rejection or a personal setback, I go to my friends online and my critique partners. When I need someone to celebrate finishing a book with me or just feeling good, I call my critique partners. Writing even helped me connect with a high school and college friend.

One other friend became my first reader and my friend when I told her I wrote novels at least fifteen years ago.

Hey, Linda and Toni!

One I met at a writers' conference in 1991 and she's still my buddy and one of our bloggers. Two other blogger sisters met me through GRW and they are among my favorite people.

Recently I made my way to three class reunions, one for my high school class and two for students I taught. My former students acted as though calling me Mary and hugging me was special. Yep. My kids are now my friends and I love it.

If you don't think you have time to make and keep friends, re-think that. My friends, even those I made online, helped me get though the deaths of my parents and my divorce. We meet people an we can walk away from them of friend them. A simple hello to a stranger might be the beginning of a lasting friendship.

If you put off your secret passions or delay going after your dream, you might miss it completely. There is no better time than now.

I celebrate everyday with help from my friends, some of whom I could have missed by not being open when I met them.

Tell us about someone you're glad you met and now have as a friend.


  1. Autumn Jordon // November 12, 2009 at 8:29 AM  

    Ah, Mary, you warmed my heart this morning. When I first starting writing a number of years ago, I fell in with four other women and even though we've gone down different paths, we stay in touch every week and get together as often as we can--husbands included sometimes. My circle of friends seems to keep growing and I'm gratiful. My on-line friendship with Beth brought me to the PFS and I'm totally excited to be included in this circle.

    Thanks for reminding me to put the pressures of the world on hold and enjoy the friendships.

    (((HUGS)) AJ

  2. Mary Marvella // November 12, 2009 at 8:54 AM  

    Thanks, Autumn. Glad I could warm your heart.

    I'm not up this early often but I'm on my way to meet 3 awesome women who are my critique partners. We're together because I made friends with another writer who invited 2 of them to join us when we were a group of 2. She's no longer in this group but is still a special friend. That one time I took a chance and opened myself up gave me 6 other friends.

    Cynthia Hamer gave me our Pam and so much more.

    People come into our lives for a reason. We can respond or not. I usually do.

  3. Judy // November 12, 2009 at 12:39 PM  

    Wonderful post, Mary. You're right! As women we tend to place ourselves last--after spouse, children, parents. Women need friends and writers need other writers. RWA is one of the most amazing organizations because we writers encourage one another whether we actually know the person or not. And when we have a friend among the group, we share special joy at their successes and can really empathize with their disappointments. I don't think I would still be writing today without my special writing friends, including those in PFS whom I've never even met!! Thanks, Mary! You have a ton of friends!

  4. Pamela Varnado // November 12, 2009 at 12:49 PM  

    Your post hit home. As one of my dearest friends you know the sacrifice I made to care for my two grandsons while my daughter was stationed in Afghanistan. While it was one the most memorable and cherished times in my life, it required me to put the things I wanted to do on hold. Now that my time is my own again, I'm moving toward doing what I want to do. Thanks for giving me a little more incentive.

  5. Toni V.S. // November 12, 2009 at 12:50 PM  

    I remember your mother well, Mary...all those lunches in the Student Center, and how she let me wander through the "stacks" in the library. I found some wonderful, old books there, even some first editions. It was a great place for a bookworm like myself. I remember the fun times you and I had too, especially with the choir. Being at Mercer was a great time for me.

  6. Mary Marvella // November 12, 2009 at 1:01 PM  

    Judy, it's funny we had to get on a blog to get to know each other better! There are so many wonderful folks at the GRW meetings and so little time to talk to each of them. Glad Pam suggested we add you!

  7. Mary Ricksen // November 12, 2009 at 1:02 PM  

    I've met you for one! All of the other PFS too. I have always had a phobia about crowds, meeting new people, a fear that no one will like me. Writing has changed that for me. I found a world of wonderful people that I never knew were there. Where were you guys when I was in high school? Thanks everyone, for being my friends now. Better late then never!

  8. Mary Marvella // November 12, 2009 at 1:03 PM  

    Pam, you're my other sister! You and Linda and Toni have a place in my heart! Having Tina in danger weighed on my heart, too. You are an awesome grandma and mama! We're gonna sell one day!

  9. Mary Marvella // November 12, 2009 at 1:06 PM  

    Toni, we were meant to be close. My memories of Mercer wouldn't be the same without you. Mama and my sister remembered you and my comments about the weird person who understood me.

  10. Sandy Elzie // November 12, 2009 at 2:54 PM  

    Interesting post that obviously came from your heart.

    I too was raised during the era when girls were taught to complete their mate, honor their parents and be a good mother. Friends were extra.

    I was blessed to marry a man who sees me as an equal and encourages me in my writing and my friendships with "the girls". He knows that he has a better wife for all the friendships since I'm a happier person. Girlfriends fill a gap that husbands can't.

    I also did my stint of taking care of both parents during the last years of their lives and know what it's like to have to put others first. However, now that the kids are grown, married and don't need their mother as much and since it's just hubby and myself, I now have the time to try new things, meet new people and WRITE BOOKS! (g)

    Have a blessed day,


  11. Scarlet Pumpernickel // November 12, 2009 at 4:39 PM  

    Mary great post!

    Love the new look of the blog! The slide show of the covers is great!


  12. Dianna Love // November 12, 2009 at 4:48 PM  

    Great advice Mary. Too many times we (women in particular) sacrifice for everyone else. There's nothing wrong with caring about your own dreams and having positive/supportive people around is the best way to do that.

  13. Debbie Kaufman // November 12, 2009 at 5:25 PM  

    Met my critique partner at GRW! I try to always make time for that relationship.

  14. Mona Risk // November 12, 2009 at 8:02 PM  

    Great post, Mary. It's beauitiful to see friends who wholly believe in long-lasting friendship. I kept constant contact with friends from grammar and high shool, and made a lot of new friends along the way through my carrer and through my writing. And I believe that no matter how independant and career-oriented, a loving woman always put others first.

  15. Mary Marvella // November 12, 2009 at 9:20 PM  

    Hey, Debbie! I met some of my best friends through GRW, including you.

  16. Mary Marvella // November 12, 2009 at 9:22 PM  

    Hey, Mona, did ya see I included your picture there with my buddies? That's
    cause now you're one and you're gonna stay one.

  17. Mary Marvella // November 12, 2009 at 9:23 PM  

    Dianna, I finally learned I needed to go for my own dreams instead of just supporting others' dreams. I'm so fortunate to have friends who understand my dreams.

  18. Mary Marvella // November 12, 2009 at 10:40 PM  

    Sandy, girlfriend, you hit the jackpot with your husband. Mine thought the support I gave him was his due. Like my daddy, my ex didn't get that support must go both ways. (That's one reason he's my ex.)

    I tried to be all to everyone but I learned better. My friends make me feel important and special and I feel they are special. Glad I can spend a little time with you at the meetings.

    Yay on your sale!

  19. Barbara Monajem // November 13, 2009 at 8:30 AM  

    Writing has brought me lots of new friends, and many of them I haven't even met! The Internet has made a huge difference in so many ways.

  20. Beth Trissel // November 13, 2009 at 8:56 AM  

    This is a wonderful post. Love it and the pics.

  21. Nightingale // November 13, 2009 at 9:47 AM  

    I needed the reminder to slow down and take stock of what is really dear. I am delighted to be counted among your friends, Mary. You are a very special woman.

    I also love the new look of the blog!

  22. Mary Marvella // November 13, 2009 at 4:09 PM  

    Hey,Barbara! I wouldn't have met you without my writing. Too cool! I've made friends through conferences and look forward to conferences to see those folks once a year.

  23. Mary Marvella // November 13, 2009 at 4:11 PM  

    Beth, I'm glad you liked the post. Hey, Internet pal. Glad to know you.

  24. Mary Marvella // November 13, 2009 at 4:12 PM  

    Linda, I am blessed to have met you at mt first writing conference way from home.

  25. Joanne // November 13, 2009 at 5:30 PM  

    This is a lovely post, Mary, about the importance of making friends. And, GRW is a top-rate organization.

    You're right, people come into and out of our lives at precisely the right time for a reason.