The little Apples glow to each other on the back of our screens, and our coffee cups are long ago empty. We both have our phones beside us and are reading tweets, Facebook updates, and emails as we work. It’s an afternoon with Shawn Smucker at our local coffee shop, and it feels like the oxygen is reaching the bottom of my lungs for the first time in weeks.

Between the sporadic bits of typing, we range in subjects from social media to civility to our impending fame and fortune as writers (this last one said half with jest, half with wistfulness). It’s the kind of afternoon that comes from years of acquaintance, confidence in friendship, and shared passion.

As we so often say, writers spend a lot of time alone, and we spend a lot of time doing something that most people don’t understand (“People think writing is typing,” Shawn says.). When we find each other in this sea of both too many words and too few words that matter, it feels a bit like a homecoming, a way to rejuvenate, to refill the well when I get to be in the presence of someone who not only “gets it” but honors what we do with his thought and his time. They’re like gifts, these rare afternoons.

We spent three hours at the coffee shop, Shawn and I. I have no idea how much actual writing he got done. I managed to read three student proposals and send an email . . . but it was probably the best work I’ve done in a while because tonight, tonight I feel like I could write down the world.

What does conversation with other writers add to your life? How can you find more of that?