As I'm writing this, I'm waiting to hear news about someone's condition. I logged onto Facebook after a job interview today and found that a writing friend of mine had posted that her friend had just had a massive stroke. I expressed sympathy and she immediately IMed me to tell me who this friend of hers is. Turns out that it's someone I've known for years through Jedi Council Forums at boards.theforce.net. I'm immensely worried about her and praying on her behalf.
To take my mind off of that, I'm now thinking about the friendships I've formed with people I might never meet. This friend from Tf.n is someone who has showed up at almost every story I've written since 2003. She didn't always leave long reviews, but she was kind enough to tell me what I was doing well or badly. I always looked forward to her input on a new chapter.
Having been a fanfic writer for years, I know all of my readers by screenname if not by real name. I've met a few of them in person, know some of them from more than one website... One reader, I first contacted her in 2000 to ask permission to borrow a character.
Much as I really hope to be a successful author, much as I want to have my hand cramp at the end of a long booksigning, I anticipate missing the days when I know my readers by name. When I wrote Lest Ye Be Judged (one of the stories that the friend in crisis read all the way through, bless her), I knew professions, religious beliefs, who would get into a rousing argument over strategy, which of my readers were lawyers... I really don't want to lose that.