It has been a long time, she thinks to herself, a long time. She flexes a moment. Runs a finger across those fresh, new voices. They have so much to say. So much for her to absorb. Seeing them now, she remembers how difficult it was to pull away before, how much she's missed them since. She feels older and wiser, and simultaneously, outdated and frumpy.
Does she really belong with this crowd? These avant-garde's, these professionals? They Twitter and Facebook and blog, they write and read and review, they create book trailers, word clouds, playlists.
But she has a novel.
It will be different this time around, because she's different this time around. The old memories still hurt and the old mistakes still chafe. She feels like some of the glamour has come off and she got a real good look at the awkwardness underneath. And yet--
She watches them a little while, dipping her toes in, throwing out a comment, a laugh.
Somehow, it's just like she remembered. It's a world of voices and stories that make her skin tingle and fill her with passion. Its a group of people who are both dreamers and realists, artists and comedians. They take themselves seriously, and they know when to laugh at how silly they are. She loves them all. Craves this world.
The isolation was good for a while, even though the process often felt so futile and basic. And now that she stepped over that hurdle, reached that stage, she's almost surprised to find the dance is still going, girlishly awed that she gets to jump in.
She has a novel.
And reaching down, she picks up those pages. Reaching up, she brushes back the errant bangs. She strikes an authorly pose--very artsy, off center, with gritty concrete walls in the background--and then laughs and lets it go and is herself again, just like all the other writers in the room.
"Shall we dance?" she whispers into the book.
It rifles with memories. And finally, they dance.
Writing is and always has been a personal effort, something that everyone can't do together. You're left on your own the form the words inside your imagination. I think the World Wide Web has done a lot to change this process of isolation, across all sorts of arts. It's so much easier for us to create a group mindset and find people with whom we can share our experiences with as we go through them. This is an amazing, magical thing.
But sometimes it's too much. Sometimes being around other writers makes us think too hard and analyze too long the work we've only just started. Sometimes, we try to perfect something that hasn't even had a chance to grow.
Which is where isolation comes in. When I write, I imagine it's like a flower growing in a dark room. One shaft of light glows way up in the ceiling. There are no distractions, no other voices. No other pretty things to compare my story against. There's one flower and one light. I take my time. I let things develop as they may. A lot of the time, what I expected isn't what I get, but that's okay--because this is better.
The isolation is important. But it can't, and shouldn't, last forever. You've got to come back out. And so the period of emergence is scary. Or at least, it is for me. Old muscles have to be stretched and used again. New standards have to be met. The flower that grew in darkness is finally ready to stand on it's own in the light, next to other flowers that are probably more beautiful than mine.
Really, it's incredible how prolific, professional, and enthusiastic some of you writers are. You've got your act together. Everyone can tell that you're making things happen. Our blogs want to be your blogs when they grow up. It's really refreshing to find myself back with this awesome group of people; to dip my toe in, hang around the pool, and have you all yell to jump in.
So anyway, here's to writers. And emergence. And flowers that grow in the dark.
Truly and always,