Life is partly what we make it, and partly what it is made by the friends we choose. — Tennessee Williams
When I was earning my MFA, I chose a low-residency program because the model made perfect sense to me: Stay on campus for ten days at “writer camp”, then come home and do the work. Unless you are working with a co-writer, writing is something that can really only be accomplished alone. It’s solitary work, and many of us are—by process of natural selection—introverts. We chose this work because we don’t mind being alone. But that doesn’t mean that writers don’t need friends—on the contrary, writer friendship is essential.
The origin of the word amateur is the Latin word amare, meaning to love. It’s too bad that the word has also come to mean someone who does something poorly, because it was originally used to designate someone who does something for the love of it, not the money.
Writers need other writers because we don’t just talk “shop”. Writing can be a paying job, true, but it is also a vocation that serves our essential human need to create, to understand ourselves, and to connect with others. You don’t have to be a professional to take writing seriously. The origin of the word amateur is the Latin word amare, meaning to love. It’s too bad that the word has also come to mean someone who does something poorly, because it was originally used to designate someone who does something for the love of it, not the money. Most writers I know—even the ones who get paid—are amateurs in this latter sense. We write because we love it; even without money, we would write. Only other writers understand this.
Once, I told a friend about a terrible review that I received in an influential publication early in my career. It actually suggested that people go out and buy another book instead of “wasting money” on mine. I was crushed. But, for some reason, I didn’t give up. “Honestly, I can’t believe I didn’t quit writing after that,” I told my friend.
She Wasn’t Even Impressed
My writer friend shrugged. “Well...” she said, “...anyone who quits after a review like that really isn’t a writer. You know what I mean?” Yes, I knew what she meant. Writer friends support you when the work isn’t going well, and celebrate with you when you succeed. They do this because they get it, and this common connection is a treasure to be guarded and nurtured. I hope that you’re reading this and thinking about one of your writer/artist friends. I encourage you to connect or reconnect with them—it will make you both feel great. And if you need more of this energy in your life, please join us in our Facebook group, The Creative Wave. This is a closed group, so you’ll have to answer two quick questions and I have to approve you. We would love for you to join us.