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Old 11-16-2012, 01:23 PM   #1
squeaky pram
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Has this ever happened to you?

About two and a half years ago I sent an old friend a story I'd written. We weren't in constant contact then, just an intermittent email here and there, but he expressed interest when I told him I'd started writing again. I've heard nothing from him, not even "hello, how are you?", not a word since I sent the story.

I don't care whether the story was his cup of tea or awful or whatever. What gets me is his complete withdrawal and what I see as cowardice. I know now that he is not a true friend. But it is still irksome. A little mystery I never intend to solve.

This ever happened to you?
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Old 11-16-2012, 01:29 PM   #2
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This never happened to me...but could it be possible he was only trying to steal your story? Just a thought
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Old 11-16-2012, 01:43 PM   #3
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Sol Quince, that never crossed my mind. Until now...

No, I don't think so. Though he is doing a PhD in English, I don't believe he's ever had any creative-writing aspirations. My best guess is I'm not Kafka. Still, a real friend wouldn't drop the relationship over crappy writing. They'd either be honest or lie and move on from there (I prefer honest. I can take it). The whole thing leaves me with, at worst, a feeling of betrayal, and at best, a small sense of ick.

Or maybe a sense of 'oh well'... uneasy come, uneasy go.
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Old 11-16-2012, 06:25 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by squeaky pram View Post
Sol Quince, that never crossed my mind. Until now...

No, I don't think so. Though he is doing a PhD in English, I don't believe he's ever had any creative-writing aspirations. My best guess is I'm not Kafka. Still, a real friend wouldn't drop the relationship over crappy writing. They'd either be honest or lie and move on from there (I prefer honest. I can take it). The whole thing leaves me with, at worst, a feeling of betrayal, and at best, a small sense of ick.

Or maybe a sense of 'oh well'... uneasy come, uneasy go.
you say you told him you had started writing, again. had he read any of your prior work? If so the story was perhaps not the cause of the lack of contact?
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Old 11-16-2012, 06:47 PM   #5
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I actually do this same thing unintentionally to people. It's not nice, I know, but I can't seem to help it. They are people I care about, too. I'm just one of those people that you have to contact if you want me to talk to you. My brother and sister are the same way. I hadn't spoken to my brother in literally months or maybe even a year, and then we started talking again on a regular basis a few weeks ago.

On my part, I can't speak for my siblings, a lot of it has to do with a poor concept of time. I think only a few weeks have gone by and it has been a month or two. I cannot seem to change this no matter how hard I try. Another thing is that I moved to a different town, and there is really a case of out of sight, out of mind going on.

But mostly it all just ties back in to the "I don't reach out and contact people and I don't know why" factor.

I tell you all of this to say that it may not be intentional on your friend's part, and I doubt very seriously that it has anything to do with your writing. Have you tried contacting them again? If this person is someone who is important to you then you might have to do the reaching out. I know that life is short and sometimes it is not worth the effort to you, but there are people out there like me who, while we care very much for the people in our lives, don't reach out to those people for whatever reason.

Of course the other two options you have are that they really are jerks, or that their PhD program is consuming their life at an alarming rate.

Either way, I would say confront them about it or stop worrying. If you confront them and they are like me or just really busy then they will gladly explain to you that it wasn't intentional, etc. If you don't value their friendship then don't worry about it.

At least then you would get some closure.
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Old 11-16-2012, 07:15 PM   #6
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I'm with Tedium. Perhaps it wasn't the writing. He could have moved, his e-mail could have been hacked, he could have just forgotten... I had a good friend who I hadn't heard from in a long time, and I'd been calling her, and was sure I must have done something to make her upset with me. Turns out we'd degenerated into only being in contact by cell-phone, and when she ditched her old phone suddenly to avoid a stalker ex, she lost all of her contacts and had no other way to get hold of me to tell me so (we live across the country from each other, and she does no social networking).

Do you have proof that he even read the story? Your e-mail might not have reached him.

So don't despair--it really might not have anything directly to do with you.

Then again, I'm a benefit-of-the-doubt kind of person.
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Old 11-17-2012, 12:04 AM   #7
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Sounds like you're being paranoid.
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Old 11-17-2012, 12:06 AM   #8
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I was thinking that too. There are a thousand reasons why he may not have contacted you. Why assume it's your story?
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Old 11-17-2012, 12:14 AM   #9
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Well, you weren't in constant contact even then, so he certainly wasn't the type of friend you talk to as often as possible, and who calls you whenever he has the chance. This doesn't mean is isn't a true friend, it means you two never were all that close.

It may be he likes you, and just doesn't want to hurt your feelings. That isn't cowardice, it's simply not wanting to hurt your feelings. And it may also be that he's dead, or in jail, or has cancer, or ran away with the circus. If you aren't willing to solve this problem, that's on you, not him.
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Old 11-17-2012, 07:42 PM   #10
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I think you're taking it too personally. Why didn't you email a few weeks later with a casual, 'hey, how'd you like it?' and a, 'be honest if you didn't read it. That's okay. Not everyone likes --- mystery/SF/fantasy/whatever.'

Because if you don't do that, you'll never know. Maybe he was jealous and thought your writing was great and he knows he can never do the same. Maybe he thought your story was poor or weak and he didn't have the heart to tell you because he's basically an honest guy. In that case, he's just trying to avoid talking about it. Maybe he started reading it, hated it, and never finished.

I had a very good friend at work. I taught science; he was English. When I showed him my first story he didn't read it. I never asked why. I saw him every single day - we were on the same teaching team. Years later his daughter asked to read my first story and she loved it. (She was also an English teacher.) Then she told me her dad couldn't read it as he was upset (jealous?) that I had done what he wanted to do, but never did. (Does that make sense?) He always had dreams of writing and leaving teaching - it never happened. (Not from lack of talent; he just never wrote anything.) So when I got published, and won a little award for it, it blew him away. He was still my friend, but our relationship was suddenly different. He never realized I could write. (The little science teacher is a writer? What? WHAT?)

I'm not saying this happened to you, but perhaps something similar. As for me, I remained friends with the English teacher and he always congratulated me when I published another story, but he's never read any. Not a one.
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Old 11-18-2012, 08:35 PM   #11
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Your friend might be thinking the same thing. Why hasn't squeaky contacted me in two and a half years? Is he afraid to hear what I think of his story?
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Old 11-18-2012, 09:02 PM   #12
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This recently happened to me. A friend of mine since middle school contacted me out of nowhere and asked that I read a story she'd written in her free-time. I accepted and got the story back to her with tracked changes, personal comments, grammar changes, the whole nine, in two days. Bear in mind that I'm a very busy person; I work full-time at the University I also attend full-time. But I've always offered to read my friends' stories because I appreciate when friends do this for me.

She emailed me back almost immediately, thanking me for my thorough critique. She asked if I wanted to trade stories, which I agreed to. The first story I sent her was only 750 words, and I wasn't even asking for a line-by-line. Just a read through and a thumbs up or a thumbs down. No reply. Then she emailed me about a month later and apologized (which was nice, but the email was about 500 words long--she COULD have just read the story in that time it took to pen the apology). Then she mentioned that she'd found out about a longer short story that I was going to send out to magazines for potential publication. She asked for that story too. It's been about three months total and no response back from her at all. So frustrating.

Alas. Though in your case, I think that two-year+ gap can go both ways. Maybe he's wondering why you didn't contact him after so long. A few months is quite a bit different than years. Perhaps you should contact him and see if you can, at the very least, get an explanation. I'll probably be doing something similar if I don't hear back from my friend by the year's end.
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Old 11-19-2012, 09:04 PM   #13
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You all make very good points and I'm reconsidering my position. Hmmm. Yes, I may be paranoid (though my original posts didn't express that particular option, I'm always willing to believe in the possibility. It's not without precedence!).

And yes, I surely could have contacted/could still contact him. I suppose that it just seems out of character for him. As for dead, etc... we're facebook friends, so I know he still exists in the world. But yes, you guys are right. People lose touch for many reasons, and trying to finish a PhD is a pretty good excuse. In fact, rereading my original posts I can see how, well, b**chy they sound. Yes, indeed... you have got me thinking!

To MJNL, yes, he told me he received the story and was looking forward to reading it.

To Jakson: that's very interesting about your friend. Actually I think I can understand why he'd be that way. I'm glad you both found a way to deal with it. I think if I saw this friend on a daily /weekly/even monthly basis it would help. But we live on two different continents now. We were once close, but now there are many years and distance between us.
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Old 11-20-2012, 09:27 PM   #14
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I don't think you're paranoid, but I do think you're way, way, way too hard on your friends. It simply is not that big a deal, and if you say someone really isn't your friend because of something like this, well, I'm glad I don't have friends who judge me so harshly, and get mad at me so easily.

We all make mistakes. Our friends make mistakes. Our friends use bad judgment. Our friends forget things we think they should remember. And so do we.
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