Sunday, May 23, 2010

No Writer Is An Island (In Praise of the Archipelago)

Writing is necessarily a solitary activity, since only the communication from your brain to your fingers can result in the magical string of words you bead together on the page. I've always viewed my writing as something I suffer through alone, triumph in alone, read aloud to cringe at the corniness, alone.

But increasingly I realize that any form of expression--be it basketball or baking--naturally unites people in an inescapable hive of sorts. All these bees, buzzing about the same thing. Honey potential.

For three years now I've been part of a monthly writer's salon with two dear writer friends. We spill our writing guts to each other and we listen. I never finish things, except blogs that nobody reads, I moan, and they nod, they validate and empathize and suggest.

We much on corn chips and spit salsa when we laugh. They read my latest essay about Jesus, the one I've been hanging my head over, and they say, Jess, I love this opening description, I sunk into the story like teeth into cake. And I give myself some credit for creating something that someone else enjoyed. They suggest that I thread one storyline into another, and something clicks, the insight I've been searching for, and that night I confront the keyboard without fear. Thanks to them, I've progressed from someone who wants to write, to someone who actually does it.

Last Saturday I went to a workshop run by two talented writers (Petals and Bones, look into it) that brought together eight people so excited about writing that we ran feverishly over time. We responded to prompts on the fly, my hand awkwardly clutching the pen, no time to wonder how silly my sentences, how raw my emotion. When I read it aloud, people listened and made comments. I thrilled at hearing other people recite their lovely sentences, so different from my own. After three hours of this, we were all glowing.

As I read Ariel Gore's "How to become a famous writer before you're dead" I realize, too, that I am part of a larger community of writers who do not know me and who I may never meet. But so what? I just found out that Ariel Gore starting publishing in Sonoma County Women's Voices, which is the local newspaper I co-edited when I first moved out here, nearly seven years ago! It's also the place I first published my writing. Just like that, I feel a kinship, a sense of hope. Maybe all of our lives are sewn with similar thread; its all about how we weave them.

Thanks to the wonders of the internet, I can probe into many writers' lives. I can admire their work, draw inspiration from them, and smile with pride when they suggest that I start a blog. Check, I've already got one. (Now how do I get folks--other than my writers' salon--to read it?)

I'm a writer, I think, just like them. For don't I, too, offer up the words, and then let them go?

No comments:

Post a Comment