This morning, my friend Karrie sent me a link to her new essay in Black Clock. Then, my friend Cassandra Lane tagged me in a post about her forthcoming book, After the Tree, which “examines the psychological, emotional and spiritual impact that a 1904 lynching has upon four generations of marriages.” My friend Jen hooked me up with information about agents yesterday . . .
I’m a little breathless with joy over my writer friends today.
A writer’s life can be lonely because, for most of us, our work requires that we be alone a lot. We sit at desks or coffee shop tables, ear buds in, hands curved . . . speaking words only meant for us for a time. This is not a bad thing – it’s a necessary thing, part of the job, a joy in the moment.
It can also be lonely because we live in a society that does not value what we do very much. Most of us not receive monetary compensation of any significant amount for our work, and the other kinds of compensation – gratitude from readers, sheer pleasure of the task, participation in important conversations and moments – often get overwhelmed by claims that artists are selfish or self-absorbed or out of touch.
So when we find our community of people who “get” us and who value our work, it can feel like taking a long, cold drink of water after a day bent double in the roaring son.
I started to find “my writing people” in the MFA program at Antioch Univ. in LA, people who knew what it is to spend days agonizing over just a page, people who wanted to use our talents and skills to make change in the world we see, people who critiqued my work but never my dreams of writing books that would grasp a reader’s heart and leave him bruised with growth.
Then, I started to find those people where I taught, college professors like me who loved to teach but longed to write, too, students whose voices were just coming out of squeak and into song.
Then, I found these people here online, through friends and in tweets, through groups and in the dark, quiet of instant messages.
I’m selective in my community; I share my works in progress with only a trusted few, and I open up my truest laments to even fewer. Yet, I don’t need more people, for these folks are true. Deep. Real.
So today, as I see my friends bloom into their words with the grace of a peony unfolding, as I watch them stride ahead by letter and word, I am proud of them, as I know they are of me. The gift of people who “get” me . . . who knew writing would give me so much?
Who gets you? How did you find them?