Updated: Jul 23
It’s a peculiar situation that writers find themselves in, isn’t it? We work in solitary, spiritual prisoners of our own devising, away even from others doing the same work—even artist colonies keep us apart during the work day.
But then, after that day’s work ends in inevitable failure or the startle of success, we want others around, even need them around. But we want this in a special way: because we do not necessarily want them around as real entities.
We want (maybe I should say, I want) the idea of others, that is, the idea that they could be there, whether they are or not. And we want them there not to lament the failure or to rejoice in the success, but to be there, part of the world that comes after the writing.
I said the situation was peculiar. Maybe I should have said strange.
This idea of the community of others is one kind of informal, virtual, but necessary community. There is another kind, the factual or real community, created, ongoing, institutionalized: an actual thing. It is the kind produced by and from writing workshops, and readings, and teaching—by intention and effort.