How long does it take to truly make friends with someone - to properly get to know them?
It's a thought I pose when I'm taking writing courses. As with many good questions, there isn't a single or simple answer - it can range from weeks to decades. And with some people - you may never truly know what goes on inside, and why.
I'm thinking about this now, because I've been working on a new book, one for young adults. Which means I've had to create a whole new cast of characters, all from nothing.
It's not been a chore, quite the opposite. I haven't done this for many years, and it's challenged my imagination and been a delight.
There are two main characters in the plot. I'll call them S and A.
(Apologies for being so cryptic, but you know how we writers love our mystery. Not to mention how we guard our ideas jealously.)
Anyway, I've been working with S and A for about six months now...
(Aside - it's a good sign, I think, that I subconsciously wrote working with, rather than working on. It suggests to me they've become real, almost my friends, which is exactly what I want, and what I'm writing about in this blog.)
Ok, so back to the point, and after six months, a fair whack of time, only now do I think I'm actually getting to know S and A well.
And that's six months when we've been together every day, too. When I'm immersed in a new project, I tend to go to sleep at night thinking about it and wake in the morning likewise. And that's without counting the number of times my thoughts drift to the writing in the day.
So, it takes time to get to know someone, and that's true in fiction as much as in real life. It's just another way the realm of writing mirrors the real world.
And that's so much part of the joy of it for me - learning something new, and not just about writing, but about this bizarre - yet wonderful - game called life.