Did your stomach just tighten? Mine did. I really love people. I really do. I laugh more with them than I do without them. Everyone has a story. People are fascinating, fun. In doses.
During the graduating class luncheon, the chair of my MFA program warned us that we would have to work very hard to stay engaged with writing and that many of us may never write again. At the time, this seemed unfathomable. We had just spent two years in devotion to our craft and years before that preparing for this course of study.
I decided right then to take a class or a workshop at least once a year. I didn’t want to be a serial attendee of conferences because they’re expensive and take time, which would severely interfere with getting my work done.
In this photo by Kim Rogers, I’m one of the few newbies in this tightly knit, yet friendly writing workshop. Certainly this was treasured, precious time to write, accompanied by in-depth craft discussions on nonfiction, and I even started and finished a brand new essay. Year after year, class after class, I had done the homework but as I look back now on photos like Kim’s, I am reminded of the help, insights, and goodwill from the writing community that I draw from daily to fortify my own practice and help others do so too.
Writing is done alone. But it’s not won alone. I have learned that grad school was a great beginning but I hadn’t yet met everyone that my writer self needed to meet. As Gina Barreca writes, “Friends are life’s rewards for getting it right” and even my shy inner writer can’t argue with that.