The Writer’s Conversation
A few years back I had the pleasure of meeting the ridiculously talented Tony Noland, when his work brought him Portland ways. I offered to show him around the city a bit, but we didn’t make much past Powell’s coffee shop, where we talked for quite awhile about writing. This was, perhaps, the most appropriate venue for such a discussion in all of Portland, if not the entire Pacific Northwest; tables overflowing with people, books, laptops, and coffee, all surrounded by 10 foot stacks of even more books.
Our conversation was but one in a long, long line dating back into time immemorial. It is a tradition dating back to Thag and Oola, when their respective groups met on some prehistoric plain, and they were introduced with some variation of, “Remember that thing, they tell story best!” Writers see the world differently, and our family and friends, and especially co-workers, don’t often understand that our perspective of life isn’t so much skewed, as bent. In a good way as far as we’re concerned, of course, but it can make for some decidedly awkward conversation around the lunch table at work.
Soon enough we learn discretion and save our insights for more receptive audiences. While once upon a time that likely would have been ye olde coffee shop, pub, or correspondence with like minded souls, in the new millennium it has taken the form of Social Media. Specifically for me it has been Twitter. Whether my it’s my own preferences or simply the way it is, I have found no greater wealth of talented writers than on twitter. They are easily found through such hashtags as, #buttinchair, #amwriting, and the one that brought me into the writer’s fold, the venerable #FridayFlash.
Insights, encouragement, and flashes of wisdom flit back and forth at all times, irrespective of day or night. Whether you are sharing or listening, there is an overwhelming amount of knowledge and support always right there. For me it has been everything from a gentle nudge from Mark Gardner to write more, to reading Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces with Sonia Lal and Katherine Hajer, to the sparking of long emails with Victoria Griffin, our Link Party host, detailing our successes and failures with National Novel Writing Month.
The way in which these conversation between us storytellers, us writers, may have changed, but what we talk about has not. Our own particular twist of hopes, dreams, insecurities, and successes may be the topic, but the vibrancy of the conversation flows from our uniquely grokked view of the World. The practice of writing may be inherently solitary, but it is the community to which we all belong that gives us not just inspiration, but the courage to pursue it.