Writers need other writers. It is such a solitary occupation, this sitting in front of a computer—or a typewriter or a pad of paper—and building stories out of the deepest recesses of our minds, that we need from time to time to be with others who share our compulsion for wandering off into worlds of our own creation. The conversation that occurs when we come together gives us a chance to breathe, to say, “Ah, yes. It’s all right, this odd thing I’m doing. Someone else does it too!”
I’m back home in St. Paul, Minnesota, having just returned from the Oregon coast. I flew out there to meet with a group of folks I used to teach with at Vermont College of Fine Arts. I retired from teaching at VCFA two and a half years ago, and I have seen few of my good friends since. We met in a big, old house with a fireplace and lots of room to spread out or curl up or sit at a long, indoor picnic table, and we wrote and wrote and wrote.
When we weren’t writing, we talked. About the college, of course. (I listened, feeling a million miles removed, but connected all the same.) About students and former students and fellow faculty. About editors and agents and contracts. About our stories. About our lives experienced in the light of our stories and about our stories in the light of our lives.
And when we weren’t writing and weren’t talking we cooked and ate and cleaned up after cooking and eating and walked on the beach and went into town to watch a glass-blowing demonstration and sat in a small restaurant listening to and chatting with a singer who we realized, only later, is quite famous. We were simply friends, good friends, stepping out of our lives for a few days to be with one another, and because most of the time we live in such isolation from others like ourselves, we drank one another in like water in a desert.
Then we came back home . . . to return to our good lives, to return to our good work, having renewed the kind of connection that strengthens our very bones.