I just started reading Maria Arana’s collection of articles from The Washington Post, where writers discuss their writing practices.

The collection begins with the work of Francine Du Plessix Gray, whose work, I must confess, I have never read, but who I now plan to scoop up at the next possible moment. She says that the writing life is “a tension – a dialectic – between rebellion and community.” The moment I read that sentence my spirit settled a bit with in me – here was someone who gets it – the constant struggle between time with people who I need in order to have subjects for writing (not to mention sanity) and time away where I can get down into the dirt of myself and germinate some words.

And isn’t this just the battle writers fight each day? How do I pull away from those you love, observe, witness while sneaking closer to them at the same time? How do I cloister myself and then climb mentally scramble over those walls to get back to where I was or could be? Where is the balance between solitude and community?

I’m hoping that Arana’s collection of 55 essays on The Writing Life will help me wind together the life of companionship and the life of aloneness, like a master gardener mixes colors, size, and shapes to create a splendid panorama of beauty that is rooted deep in the dirt of a small yard.