I’ve often blogged about my favourite editor, Mary Belk.
She was assigned to my first novel and totally helped me re-imagine it. But I realised something the other day. I have no idea what she looks or sounds like. That’s not unusual as I have the same relationship with my current editor, Jason.
I wanted to Skype Mary but she wouldn’t allow it. The same book, Drama Queens with Love Scenes, was assessed over three drafts by a woman named Janet who I’d met. I even had one of my consultations over the phone.
But without knowing her voice or seeing her face, Mary sticks in my mind.
She taught me so much more about writing. She’s passed on since so I’ll never get to know what she looked like (yes, I’ve Googled. Nothing!) or hear her voice for the first time. Yet, through her written words, she’s touched me.
This made me ponder my other modern relationships, especially those I only experience online.
There’s a stark difference between those who use words and those who use images.
Those that I know in real life that share pictures, I feel connected to. Those that I know personally who only use pictures but I don’t see regularly, I feel are disconnecting. Yet others who I’ve never met but share comments with regularly on social media feel closer.
I know you’ll probably read that last paragraph again. If you’re my age and remember the difference between an acquaintance and a friend then you might recognise that in an online age, this distinction has already blurred.
I used to love talking to friends on the phone for hours as a teenager.
Often a phone call seems like a hindrance now. And if you ever ask me what was humankind’s greatest invention, I’d pick language over the wheel any day. And even though a picture is worth a thousand words, we don’t communicate just by sending images back and forth.
Words are what affect us. They comfort us. They show us what we all have in common.