Saturday, March 24, 2012

Friends After Love Ends

After two unsuccessful long-term relationships, it's logical to wonder if you're the problem... Did I do all that I could to make him feel wanted and appreciated? Were my desires too much for him to handle? Did I pressure him to commit? Was I enough? 

As you search for the answers, in the midst of the heartache and confusion, the biggest perhaps most difficult question presents itself: Where do we go from here?

Let's just be friends...


But what kind of friends? Just the two of us type friends who accompany each other to the movies... dinner... the beach... road trips? Friends who simply text or call each other occasionally just to catch up and stay updated? Or casual friends with physical benefits in order to eliminate the pressure of commitment?

I recently posted the following question(s) on Facebook:

Is it possible to be friends with an ex? Why or why not? Define this particular type of friendship. What terms or rules must be followed to prevent or eliminate confusion? Should the friendship end when one or both people become romantically involved with someone new? 

I received varying responses that sparked the difficulty in developing my own personal opinion for this complicated topic, such as:

"It is possible, but sometimes not plausible. There may be too much hurt or love lingering for that type of relationship to work."--OS

"I think it can work, probably about as much as the relationship worked. Just because a relationship fails doesn't mean it didn't ever work. I think that if you can still communicate without residual feelings it can work. It all depends, but I don't think it can work if the two parties still have romantic emotional attachments or the  breakup was bad.... Oh and there must be rules... no sex, no kissing, clear defined friendship type things. The physical aspects will only cloud the friendship boundaries."--TA

"Honestly, If you are in love, then I do not think that it is really possible to be friends. To go from being lovers to friends, I feel like that is highly unlikely. Maybe somewhere down the line, but not immediately after a relationship. I think that once you have moved on and found someone else, it is very inappropriate to keep a "friendship" with a former lover. Think about it, how would you  feel if the person you were dating claims to be best friends with someone who he was previously romantically involved with? Granted, there is nothing wrong with checking up every once in a while to see how the person is doing but other than that, your focus should be on the man [or woman] in front of you."--RW

"I believe you can if both parties honestly agree it's over. It's when one person isn't completely honest, in hopes of keeping the other in their life in some capacity that trouble starts."--TA

"It all depends on who the ex is."--KW

"For me personally, no. If I'm in a committed relationship I love you with all my heart so it's hard for me to just consider myself a friend and put all my emotions aside. I would have to stop all communication to get over it and you!"--AJ

"I believe that it is okay to be friends after even a bad breakup. Even if the friendship dwindles down to being an acquaintance, it's common, civil ground. The key to having this sort of relationship is CLOSURE. I had a bad breakup after my first year of college, so I was still really young...more serious than high school, less serious than being engaged. Anyway, after a few months of not speaking, we revisited our relationship to see what went wrong and how each of us felt about certain things. After that closure, I then felt like I could actually learn from the relationship and move forward with no regrets."--KD

"Cut your loss. Time to be civil, but you're walking on a "hurt wire".--VP 

"It depends on how the relationship ended… as long as it wasn't an ugly breakup where someone cheated or fell out of love with the other person."--TW

"I think being friends is okay as long as both agree that it is just a friendship and each do not have any warrant/bearing on what the other person is doing in their own life. But being friends is good!"--CW

"Yes, it is possible. In fact, I kinda think it should be the norm. If you were compatible to be together for a long period of time then why not be compatible enough to be friendly... unless they fugged you over somehow."--IC

"Yes, I think it's possible to be friends with an ex and I think it's a sign of maturity when you are able to still be friends after a breakup. The two would need to set ground rules as to the time of the day that they can have contact i.e. no contact after 11 p.m. unless it's an emergency of course. I don't think that they should end the friendship when one or both people become romantically involved with someone new [but] I've been in the situation where I was talking to someone new and that new girl was a bit insecure and didn't like that I was still cordial with my ex."--RB

"Sometimes it depends on how the relationship ends or what type of relationship you were in. Yes, if you see them somewhere and it did not end on good terms a 'Hi' and 'How are you?' would be OK. One rule I personally learned is that just to be friends you will have to stop sleeping with each other because that will keep the feelings there and he or she might be able to move on and your feelings are still there while he or she will still be hoping for the best. The flesh sometimes can be very weak."--TW

"I believe it is possible to be friends with an ex. Viewing this question from the Christian perspective, it is a commandment that we love one another. With that being said, a change in the level of intimacy does not have to dictate the enjoying of one another's company. As long as there is a mutual understanding and respect for everyone who is involved in the equation, all can go well."--PL

"I believe you can be friends with your ex if that's genuinely ALL you want. In most situations, someone wants to stay friends because they have a hidden objective of getting back together. Now if that's the case, it will only cause one of them pain, and the other confusion. Once the smoke clears and both parties understand there is nothing left, you can be friends again, but only to a certain extent."--JW

"It is possible but a separation has to be established after the initial break to allow a realignment of feelings (if one is able) and reconvene after the strength of the romantic portion has abated. The dilemma comes if the two become close again (e.g. Besties) and/or a new boo or beau comes into their lives. Serious boundaries must be established and if all else fails and the friendship interferes with the progression of the new romance or now solidly established romance elsewhere it may be reasonable for the two friends/ex-lovers to silently go their separate ways and keep their sustained friendship distantly yet openly amicable, but with little actual interaction as to not jeopardize the romance. It is very thin ice to tread when ex-lovers become friends and any of them find new lovers. Feelings and insecurities become valid and fragile. So for me, I wouldn't recommend pursuing friendship (though the two shouldn't be enemies either), but if it genuinely happens please proceed with caution and handle with care. If kids are involved, a functioning friendship becomes necessary in order to lessen the possible dysfunctionality of the now broken home. I am good friends with two ex-lovers/girlfriends and with one exception I've had no problems when dating other women or in any of my relationships since, and yes everybody knew about everybody."--GE

"It's possible if both parties are mature."--JP

"If both people have no romantic feelings anymore they can be friends, but I don't know if those ever completely go away. It can be hard work if one party didn't want the breakup or still has feelings. It may be easier to not be friends, or sometimes it's easier to be friends if you broke up a long time ago though. If you get a new significant other, whatever relationship you have with your ex should have boundaries that won't make your current partner uncomfortable. Some people make it look really easy though."--DS

"This all depends on the person if each individual is able to control their own emotions and feelings. If the previous relationship ended on good terms and they were friends before lovers then the new person cannot fully expect that previous friendship to just evaporate. However, there should be a fine line that is not crossed. But to say that you must let the previous person go totally out of your life is ridiculous. If you can't live with that person as just a friend and move on with your current life and love other people then you should never have parted ways to begin with."--MB

"It depends on the maturity and integrity of the person. This is easier if you were friends beforehand. However, it is annoying to see people fumble and try to be friends with an ex. One may feel differently than the other. So clean break, no contact, and if your paths cross in the future, then so be it. If not, move on. Let go and let God. It's just too complicated dealing with all of that baggage."--LW

To summarize and add my final two, three, and four cents... being friends with an ex is possible, but can also be risky. Lingering feelings may cause unwarranted jealousy and create irreconcilable circumstances, setting boundaries will contaminate the authenticity of genuine interaction, and letting go invites the urge of regret and a multitude of "what if" scenarios.

Additionally, remaining friends elongates the possibility of reconciliation, and perpetuates the principle of obligation. When considering why the relationship ended in the first place, the significance placed on honesty and forgiveness may or may not produce a common result.

The "easy" solution would be to just move on... but what about the undeniable connection or the history of memories that stemmed from love. How do you ignore romantic feelings and revert to a mutual state of normalcy?

A more deeply expressive response to my own posed question(s) can be examined and speculated in the video below:

*Music is Life... Poetry is Love*

Monday, March 12, 2012

Writer To Writer: Full Brenda Jackson Interview

Describe your writing process. How do you prepare for your writing sessions and what rituals do you follow to awaken and expand your thoughts?  

I don’t have any. I don’t do outlines and I don’t take notes because my books are character driven versus plot driven. Once in a while I’ll write an integral plot, but usually it’s character driven so I know the characters and I try to find a plot that I think will fit the characters. The first thing I do is get down to my research. If the book I’m writing has a lot of traveling in it, which is usually 99 percent of the time, I’ll research the city. Once in a while I may make up a town if I want something to go on in that town that’s going to be outrageous. I research everything and once I get it all done then I just start writing. Because I’ve already gotten my idea of a synopsis and what the story will be about, I just write. I typically write 8 hours a day, even on the weekends. Sometimes if I’m busy on the weekends I may limit it to six hours. But other than that I pretty much write every day.

What is life like now that you are a full-time writer versus when you were juggling writing with maintaining your management position at State Farm?   

hen I worked as a Supervisor I got up at 3 in the morning and wrote from 3 a.m. to 6 a.m. and I would edit when I got home. So I really had two hats on at once. Now, I write full time. I get up when I want. Even though I write 8 hours it can be at any time, depending on what I have to do that day. I try to write consistently 8 hours a day. I prefer writing at night because it’s quiet and the phone rings less. I really get a lot done when I’m writing at night, but my schedule as far as a writing schedule, I don’t have one. I do what I need to do. I’m governed by deadline. My next deadline is March 30th and as soon as I finish that book I do what I need to do to start another one so I’m constantly writing. You want to turn a book in 8 months before it’s due to come out for editing, cover design, promotion, etc. so those deadlines are determined by when my books are due to come out in 2013.

How do you discipline yourself to steadily manage your creative ideas?   

This is my 17th year of writing and I’ve written over 90 books. My 90th book comes out in April and my 91st book comes out in June. I’m now writing my 92nd book. In 2011, I published 8 books and this year I’ll have 6. I concentrate on one character and one book at a time. I just know what the story is about and write it. It’s really the gift of storytelling, knowing what you want to write and writing it. That doesn’t mean it can’t change midway. There may be something else you want to throw in there to make it more interesting and that’s fine. I’m OK with that as long as it doesn’t do anything to offset my characters. That’s when I get writer’s block, when I’m trying to force my characters to do something that they shouldn’t do.

You’re well known for your tendency to extend the presence of your characters with an ability to create multiple circumstances of ongoing action. Is the course of each series strategically planned or are the concepts developed during your creation process?

They’re not all developed at one time. Right now I’m writing a Westmoreland series and it’s a 30 book series, but it didn’t start out that way. It started out with 5 books and when we got to the third book my publisher noticed the popularity of the series and wanted me to increase it. I’m already on book number 22 so I have 8 more books in the series to go. I know the characters in the series because all of my books are character driven. I may not know who they’re going to meet or what’s going to happen to them but I know them because I’ve given the family tree in the books. I love writing about families so I’m just picking them all off and writing one at a time about each family member, but that family member isn’t new to you. You’ve met that person before so if I describe them one way, I can’t write them another way because the readers know. The biggest challenge is if you’re trying to change a character, you can’t change a character to fit the plot and that’s why my books are character driven and not plot driven.

Do you simultaneously advance your connected storylines or is each series constructed separately in chronological order?

There’s really no order. I introduce a family and I try to deal with the oldest one first because they’re the ones I want to marry off first. You want to give the younger characters time to mature. I write by popularity of the characters and build up each character so that by the time the story comes out I've already developed a following for that character. In all of my series I choose a character to bring back and reintroduce them to the reader.

How do you develop the background details and personalities for your characters? Are they based on individuals in your own life?

Every character is different. Most of the time I write from a man’s perspective so most of the characters are men. I’m writing typically for a female audience. Women who want men that treat them right, who will wine and dine them. They don’t necessarily have to be the good boy in the beginning. In fact, they prefer him to be the bad boy because they want to see his transformation and how he falls in love. That’s where we get the power as a woman to conquer the male so to speak. In romance novels, women like reading about the guys who play around because in the end the heroine is the woman who brings him to his knees.

What particular themes do you usually try to incorporate into your books and how do you think those themes symbolize real life events in relation to the Romance genre?

Long-lasting relationships. I’ve been married for 40 years so I like to incorporate into my books that there is such a thing as happily ever after and that all of those who work at marriage can last. I love books with happy endings. The characters go through things, but in the end there’s a happy ending. I think most people are quick to throw in the towel when they experience bad times, but I believe that if you truly love a person you can work it out. Now, there are some things that even I won’t tolerate in a marriage, such as infidelity. I like to write books that showcase different people who have different likes and dislikes, but all of it comes together to make the marriage what it is. For some people, as soon as it gets rough, they get going and my books show that it doesn’t have to be that way.

You were recently nominated for an NAACP Image Award for “Outstanding Literary Works—Fiction” for your novel
A Silken Thread. Is this your first NAACP Image Award nomination? If so, how does it compare to other awards you’ve already won?

I’ve won so many awards and they all are important, but I think because of the history behind the NAACP, what it stands for, what it represents, the struggle of our people from generation to generation to bring us the possibility to be there and do some of the things that were denied to us years ago. So to know that I was nominated whether I win or not, that my work was recognized in that way is very touching and it means a lot.

As the
 first African-American author to have a novel published as part of the Silhouette Desire line and the first African American Romance author to make USA Today's and NY Times Bestseller's List in the Romance genre, is there any honor you have not yet received that would outweigh those accolades?

Right now I can’t think of one and that’s not putting anything down because I’ve received many awards. But this year I released my first movie and I plan on tapping more into that a  little bit so who knows, I may one day be nominated for an Oscar. I believe the sky is the limit. You shouldn’t limit your abilities. I’ve always told my sons if you can conceive it, you can achieve it and I’m showing them that that’s true.

What advice would you give to young, beginner novelists?

Believe in yourself and believe anything is possible. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it, and don’t get discouraged by rejection. Stay dedicated, continue to learn about your craft, and seek advice from other writers. Just go after what it is that you want. I attended writer’s conferences and learned the trade. My degree is in Business Administration but I went where the writers and publishers were. I think young people want instant results. Don’t expect anyone to hand you anything. It was never my expectation for other writers to give me anything. My expectation was for them to share their knowledge and give me advice. It was up to me whether I used it or not.

Are there any other authors that you are especially fond of?

I like historical books. Beverly Jenkins, Stephanie Laurens, Sabrina Jeffries.

Which book is your personal favorite from your own collection?

I think my first book is my favorite because it was my first one, but if you were to ask me what do I think is the best book I’ve ever written, I would say Ties that Bind because it’s a saga that covers 40 years, starting in 1968 and follows a couple and their children and how things were from 1968 to present day. It took me 5 years to write that book because I had to go back and recall what happened back then. The research on that book was phenomenal.

How do you balance the demands of such a strenuous profession that requires you to be creative and original at all times?

Time management and keeping it together. That doesn’t mean that some days I don’t do anything or I don’t feel like writing. Sometimes I do get off schedule but it’s OK. I just get back on it the next day. It’s all about making sacrifices. You have to discipline yourself and stick to your deadlines. The main thing that you want to do is write a good book and not just throw anything together for your readers. They deserve more than that.

Do you feel a certain level of gratitude knowing that you’ve cultivated your success in your hometown?

I do because my greatest support comes from my hometown. My favorite teacher Rufus Jefferson attended my movie premiere. I tell people teachers are so special and at the age of 58 I can remember the teacher that inspired me after all this time and I will always admire the teacher that he was and I wish there were more teachers like him. In 6th grade getting ready to go to high school, those years are important. He instilled in me that you can make something of yourself. When I published my first book, the whole city of Jacksonville got behind me and showed support and I am so glad to still be living here.

What inspires you?

Life inspires me… because every day that I get up is a day that someone else doesn’t have. So I want to make the best of each day. When I worked at the insurance company I worked in life and health so I know all about life expectancy and I’m getting up there in age. People often ask me, “When are you going to rest?” and my response is, “When I’m stretched out in a coffin and don’t have any more life in my body.” Until then, I am treating every day like it may be my last. I’m being joyful and I will do the very best that I can to enjoy it so when that day comes I’ll know that I’ve accomplished a lot. I want people to know what I did between the time on my tombstone. To be able to leave that legacy inspires me.

What projects are you presently working on and what can your readers expect from you next?

I’m presently working on Texas Wild which is book number 22 of my Westmoreland series. I’m also promoting my first movie Truly Everlasting. We premiered it at the Florida Theater and went straight to DVD with it. There’s also a soundtrack for the movie and the book that it’s based on.

How can your fans contact you?

My official website is I'm on Twitter (@AuthorBJackson) and I also have several fan pages on Facebook.

*Music is Life... Poetry is Love*