But a lot of the friends I've made I've never met in person. And with some people, that means we eventually drifted apart, or never got as close as we might have.
And with others, it doesn't make that much of a difference.
jordangreywolf is one of the latter.
I think of him as one of my best friends, and when I say "best", I mean in the sense of "most supportive" and "most inspirational". I've written about him before, in this three part essay on Opendiary, for example.
But that was four years ago. Let me tell what he's done for me lately.
I finished Prophecy because of Greywolf.
The point where I decided, "I'm going to start working on this novel I abandoned ten years ago" was triggered by krud42, in fact. Krud was talking about working on one of his novels, and as I offered encouragement, I thought, it's ironic that I should encourage him to write when I don't. So I decided to start again.
But I only reached that point because I had Greywolf as my rolemodel.
I'd long felt that I didn't have enough time to work full-time and do anything creative. I didn't want to work on a project after spending eight hours at the bank; I wanted to go home and turn my brain off.
But Greywolf, it seemed, never did this. He'd work all day at his job, and then come home and paint miniatures, or sculpt scenery, or flesh out parts of the Sinai universe, or update his webpage, or sketch, or run RP logs, or -- you get the idea. He was always creating something. He didn't just talk about things he'd like to do someday: he went and did them.
I didn't think that I could be as productive as Greywolf. But perhaps if I worked just a little bit harder -- traded in a bit of my free time to do something structured and creative instead -- then I could get things done, too.
And it worked.
But Greywolf did more than this to help me. He read Prophecy while I was writing it. He was, for me, the perfect alpha-reader: supportive, responsive, and unfailingly enthusiastic. At that fragile stage, when the task of writing a whole novel that was any good at all seemed so daunting, a critical reader might have detered me from continuing. But Greywolf seldom did anything harsher than correcting my typos. What I needed was a reason to keep on writing, to think that maybe it was worthwhile: and Greywolf gave me plenty of those.
He's been the same way about the RPG campaigns I've run in the years I've known him: supportive, enthusiastic, encouraging, and insightful. Greywolf is a great sounding board for ideas. Running campaigns with him, and watching him GM, has convinced me that there is absolutely no plot problem which cannot be resolved. If I can't work my way out of it on my own, then Greywolf can find a way, or the two of us can sort one out together. This experience has given me loads of confidence.
But beyond even that, there's a certain ... naturalness to the way Greywolf and I work together. It's so easy to work on things with him, as though were on the same wavelength. He understands instinctively what I'm looking for, and provides it.
A lot of my friends have helped and supported me, in so many ways, over the past few years, and I owe all of you a debt that I cannot repay. I always feel a little guilty, saying nice things about one person and not about everyone else. But I have to figure that it's better to start on the task of saying "thanks" and not finish it, than it is never to begin.
Thank you, wuf.