In the last few years, I have been spending more and more of my time writing, which means a lot more sitting typing into my computer, and a lot less time interacting with other people. I’ve always been a very social person, so it seems strange to me that I spend so much of my time alone talking to myself, our two cats and whatever poor creature they’ve brought into the house. I increasingly love the process of writing, and while it is thoroughly rewarding when something I’ve written comes together and people tell me they’ve enjoyed reading it, I rarely discuss the act of writing with others. This is hardly an unusual predicament, as very few people sit and discuss the details of their working process with friends and family. However, when I met Lisa a couple of years ago, I couldn’t help myself asking her about her writing. A relative of parent friends of mine, Lisa has a son at another school, has a degree in law and was finishing her PhD in geography, but at that time was coming to the coffee shop every day with her laptop to write.
One morning, I asked her what she was working on and she explained that she was taking the month to work on a young adult novel. At that time, I was trying my hand at children’s fiction and soon we discussed the challenges of our self-assigned literary projects. She was working on plot structure and character development, and I was struggling to find my story’s direction, so we decided to try to help each other out and started meeting regularly to go over each other’s writing samples. This meant being incredibly honest with each other about something very personal. It soon became clear to me that Lisa was not only intelligent and talented but also very thoughtful and creative with her criticism and suggestions. I hope I was half as helpful to her as she was to me. She is still working on her novel, but mine is on a back burner right now (or perhaps in the fridge). However, our writing relationship has grown into a lovely friendship that I value on many levels. Tonight, when we met at a neighborhood bar for glass of wine, I gave her a notebook – a book full of blank pages for her to fill when she’s ready to start her next literary journey.