Writing is solitary work for the most part. An idea strikes – or a deadline – and you withdraw to some quiet place to wrestle it onto the page. You’ve spent an hour or five in the echo chamber of your own mind, often beset by the mean rantings of the inner critic: no one cares, this has been done before and by better people, you’re a fraud/sham/loser, etc. etc. You know the drill. It takes boatloads of courage, self-mastery, and determination to complete a project, much less share it with the world.
At the same time, it’s exhilarating, it’s brilliant, and yes, it’s fun. You’ve invented a world. You’ve pulled a rabbit out of a hat. You’ve danced with the Muse and you’re high on inspiration. It’s a thrill! But just like those terrible self-attacking low points, these joyful, mighty, soaring times are experienced alone.
And that is why we need the company and friendship of other writers.
There is not ONE writer who has not experienced these peaks and valleys. They have faced their inner tigers and lived to tell the tale (quite literally!). They know what it is like to rev themselves up to get started, to inject energy and purpose into the boggy middle, and to stay the course with stamina and guts to cross the finish line. Their stories, their encouragement, their understanding, all of this is food and drink to you, just as yours is to them.
Some people complain that writers compete and can’t be trusted. This has not been my experience at all. For one thing, no one is writing the same thing, so there really is nothing to compete about. Even if we’re both poets, our visions, our approaches, and our goals are different; we may be walking the same general road, but we’re not walking it in the same way. But even more than that, I have come to believe that most people love to share a good thing – and writing is a very good thing. It’s a source of joy and self-discovery, of connection and meaning, and most of us want to see even more of that in the world.
This morning, I was very fortunate to speak with two writers face to face. We chatted about what’s important to us, what challenges us, and how and why we keep going. It was nourishing and inspiring. (Thank you, Jo and Kayla!). I came away from the conversation happy and eager to get cracking on my new book.
I want to live in a world of creative kindness, excitement, and inspiration and I know you do, too. It’s a blessing to belong, to speak the same language, to cheer and be cheered on. And so I say: Writers, let’s be friends.