Sunday, November 1, 2009

Literary Friendships

Garrison Keillor began a web site dedicated to literary friendships. The introduction (and perhaps justifying statement) to the site reads thus:
"Writing is solitary, obsessive, and prickly, and that makes literary friendships all the sweeter. Here is a new series that celebrates affection and loyalty between solitudes."
I recommend Garrison's site to you if you are, like me, the type who enjoys a peak behind the drapes.

And while my name may not top bookstore marquees everywhere, and I am not bosom chums with Margaret Atwood, nor have I gone bowling with Alice Munro, I am a writer, and I know my life is improved by the company of other writers. I've talked before of my friendship with the five other authors of Novel Matters. I can't imagine my journey without them - they are mentors, cattle prods, cheerleaders, shoulders to cry on, friends in need, and secret keepers. When I am with them, I am understood.

Just this past weekend, my husband and I attended Story & Song with Adrian Plass and Glen Soderholm (an event put on by World Vision featuring Adrian reading and sharing stories to have you rolling under your seat with laughter and Glen playing his original, folksy, wonderful music). Prior to the event, hubby and I sat down to dinner with Adrian and Glen. I should have been nervous considering I've been a massive fan of Adrian Plass for ages - not only admiring and enjoying his books, but him, his ideas, his fearlessness, his depth of creativity. Yes, I should have been a quivering bag of fanatic groupie. But as we sat down at the table all four of us seemed to feel the same thing - that we were old friends who by some mistake hadn't met until just then and were glad to be catching up.

I have many wonderful memories of the conversation we shared over dinner, but one thing stands out for me - the writer. Adrian and I were standing to one side of the parking lot while my husband backed out of a tight parking spot. Adrian said, "I love so many things I do, but if I had to give them all up but one, writing would be the thing I would keep."
I said, "Really?"
He said, "Absolutely. I love writing. I love speaking too, and all the other things I get to do. But I love writing first."
I said, "Thank you, Adrian. I needed to hear that. This is a crazy industry-"
"I'll say," he interrupted.
We smiled.
I said, "But to hear you say you'd keep writing over anything else - well - I guess I'm not crazy after all."
He shrugged. "You might be completely insane, but not about that."

It's presumptuous to assume that one shared meal equates lasting friendship, but it is a wonderful start.

Oh and he said I am the best writer in North America (an important distinction for him to make, given he is from the UK). Don't believe me? I offer you proof! (The book is Adrian's latest, Looking Good, Being Bad: The Subtle Art of Churchmanship)

I bid you good writing.

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