Thanks to Qiana Towns for today's post about the importance of literary friendship.
Qiana Towns writes, teaches, and rears her two muses from home base (Flint, Mi). She loves spinach, meditation, music, and poems. Should she ever be reincarnated, she wishes to return as a notebook. In her spare time she looks for things to do sparingly.
“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: "What! You too? I thought I was the only one.” --C.S. Lewis
Recently, Anastacia Tolbert, JP Howard, and I were featured in conversation at the website HER KIND--A Literary Community Powered By VIDA: Women In Literary Arts. For me, rereading our conversation was a magical experience. It allowed me to reflect on how cosmic our bond is, and how significant their presence in my life has been. Like some young writers, I presumed the writer's life to be “singular” and “lonely.” However, the presence of these two women—who can readily identify with my experience as a mother/teacher/nurturer/writer—has given me a varied (and contradictory) perspective. I am often alone, and I am never alone.
Our friendship began in 2007 with a coffee run while attending the Cave Canem retreat. That ride into town on a sunny June morning to pick up a caramel macchiato didn't feel like a trip with strangers. Stacey and JP instantly felt to me like old girlfriends. We swapped stories about our experiences with poetry and in life. We used that week at CC to build our poems and our friendship and we didn't lose that bond when we returned to our respective homes (Kansas, New York, and Michigan).
Over the years, these two writing warriors have become my confidants and true sisters. Moreover, they've become my most ardent, vocal cheerleaders in the poetry world. It's almost as if I've increased my chances of being successful just by being acquainted. In fact, we share our victories. If one of us gets a piece picked up by a journal or, say, gets into Bread Loaf, we celebrate one anothers' win as if it were our own. Conversely, having one another allows us to disperse (yes!) the weight of rejection and other defeats. They encourage me and I them.
True enough, as writers most of us value creative solitude. But if it is true, as Nietzsche said, that solitude makes us tougher on ourselves, then it becomes beneficial for every writer to have an outlet, some person or network put into place to help ease the 'lonelies.' Some other living being who shares in the experience and can identify with the struggle, however ugly or beautiful it may be.
Perhaps this isn't news to you, seasoned writer. Perhaps it is merely a reminder of something you learned along the way. Nevertheless, some young writer out there is tucked away in a dormitory or overpriced apartment writing the next great piece and thinking they are bound to a solitary existence. Dear young writer, it is true...and it is not true.