September 20, 2010

Your Writer Friends

What I’m Reading Today: Last night I started reading a little Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Sherlock Holmes stories. I’ve never read them. The gap between the image I’ve seen of Holmes and him on the page is striking. Before, I’d always imagined him a father figure, kindly but very intelligent. On the page he’s quite different. He does cocaine, he’s detached and unemotional and quite cold, and he’s pompous and arrogant. The Watson character narrator sort of sets him up in opposition to himself, a family man. Very interesting.

This weekend, two wonderful writer friends of mine, Ken and Nina, stopped by for dinner. I made pulled pork mojo (Cuban garlic lemon marinade), homemade herbed cheese rolls, Spanish rice with big chunks of Italian tomato, pickled beets, and butter-fried bananas and served fresh tomatoes from the garden. It all turned out well ~ you just never know when you plan these things.

Ken Olsen is a freelance writer from Portland who writes wonderfully moving veterans stories and also is writing a memoir that reads like a great novel. Nina McConigley writes wonderful Wyoming stories, but she’s of East Indian and Irish descent, though she grew up here, so they’re fascinating ~ not to mention wonderful.

My husband was gone for the weekend, but my four-year-old twins joined us. It always makes for interesting conversation to be batting two or three conversations around. My daughter was in a hostessy mood, so she was making small talk and telling stories. My son was feeling sensitive, so he stuck close to me and didn’t eat much. Ken brought some lovely red wine, and Nina brought brownies, which makes her one of the kids’ favorite people! Once dinner was over, the kids watched a little TV while we sat around and talked. I took a break to put them to bed and then we talked some more.

I don’t know about you, but for me these occasions where I sit around with writer friends and talk about writing and life are just the best. So so great. Whether it’s at a conference or at a friend’s or at my own house, I feel so rejuvenated afterwards. (Nina gives the most wonderful parties every month or so and invites such fascinating people.) I feel so supported and it helps my writing in innumerable ways.

It got me thinking about groups of writers throughout history. There have been clusters of writers who have been extraordinary - in their output and their publishing success and in pure craft terms. The ex-pat community in Paris that included Hemingway, the Algonquin Round Table, the Merry Pranksters, Virginia Woolf and all those writers, and so many more. I don’t think this is a coincidence.

Groups like these offer support, but not simply support. They also offer competition, which spurs the writer to do even better, to try even harder. They also offer a ready-made network that helps create buzz and get the writer’s name out there.

I think I read somewhere recently that a writer is much more likely to be “successful” if she or he has a group of friends who are also striving.

And, once again, back to the internet: I also have a lot of writer friends online who are so great. Though I’ve never met them, they also support me and goad me on and connect me to the wider world.

Bottom line: Thanks, guys! I owe you so much.

Questions of the Day: Do you have a group of writer friends? I sure hope so.


Pembroke Sinclair said...

I know that my connection/frienship with you has kept me going through hard times. I do appreciate all of my writer friends, also. Thanks for being there!

Tamara said...

YES! Right back atcha. In the darkest moments, it feels like that's all we have (writing-wise) - our great friendships.