As some of you know, I've just come back from Ireland - my last post included some photos.
You might conclude, from that post, that I was on my own. Yet I was with a group of friends - ten of us, trooping along the cliff path and rewarding ourselves with guinness at the walk's end. And I haven't mentioned them.
Why not? Because I haven't talked with them about this blog, about the possibility of writing about them, about saying who was the muddiest after the climb up a landslip and who had the greatest capacity for alcohol (no, that wasn't me!). They are friends; the purpose of our being together was not to gather material for a blog, or a short story, or research their histories to weave them into a travel piece. We were together to have fun - it is a good enough reason.
Yes, there are some great characters among us - characters who would be fun to play with in a short story. But I won't use them - that feels, to me, like an abuse of our friendship, taking something from our private relations and waving it at the world for all to see. When I wrote about people in Over the Hill, I either had permission to write about them or - if I couldn't contact them - changed names.
I know - I've read the 'how to create a character' books. Find a friend or member of the family and change her gender, her shoes, her occupation. Then throw a storm at her.
I'm sure it's effective. But I won't do it - my friends and family are precious. I love to write - and I love them even more. Even Anna (some of you will have met my daughter - she pops up from time to time) knows if I'm going to mention her.
Maybe I'm being too precious. Maybe it would be fine to reassemble a friendship in fiction. What do you think?