Solitude and community are essential elements of the writing life. Just as a writer needs to spend long periods of time connecting to his/her inner world, a writer also needs to nurture relationships and experience community.
Meaning continually moves from within us to outside of us and vice versa. When we write we translate the ideas ruminating in our minds to the page. The events of our lives feed the ideas and emotions pulsating through our work. Most writers create for an audience. When we give our work to readers they filter our words through their experiences and create a new meaning. A story that grew within us through the events of our lives can become a story on the page that is processed by a reader who interprets meaning based on his/her frame of reference. The work now belongs to both the reader and the writer.
A writer needs a safe community in which to test ideas, to share works in progress, to learn how to communicate his/her internalized vision for the work into an external product. A writer needs supporters who validate the writing process, ensure accountability, encourage discipline, and offer constructive critique. A writer needs to celebrate and commiserate wth like-minded people about the uses for a semi-colon, the intricacies of point of view, the format for submission to contests. Writers are life long learners. Writers need opportunities to learn about craft, process, and promotion.
Writing communities can be large or small. In high school we wrote together a couple of times a month in the computer lab. We worked on the school newspaper. In university we met in darkened lounges to share poetry and whisper book ideas.
When I became a grown-up I decided to become a “real” writer. I read all the books I could find on writing. I scheduled daily writing time. I played with poetry and prose. I kept my writing hidden. It was a secret past-time. Continue reading