This past weekend I flew out to visit Rachel, the dearest friend I made at Lesley. She showed me around her hometown, and her current-town, and drove me to see Steak and Shake and giant catsup bottles.
One night, while her husband was out visiting with her sister, we sat in her back yard and burned brush in her fire pit. Poking at the embers with the stick I’d claimed for myself, I started telling her about the story I’d just finished the rough draft for, a story that I can’t decide if it’s good, or bad, or worth the time needed to work on it. I gave her the key points, out of order, rambling a bit, and the ideas I was trying to convey — anger and resentment that burns inside you like an ember; a deep desire to have life go back to the way it’s “supposed” to be even if what you want is impossible; a need to be understood; an attempt to express yourself.
Rachel hasn’t seen any of the writing — I haven’t typed it up yet — but she had thoughts on my concepts, and words of encouragement that made me think this isn’t a boring, overdone idea, that it’s something that could succeed if I decide to just keep going with it.
And this is why I need writing friends, even if I never show them a word of what I put to paper (I will); they know what I’m going through, and what I need, not just want, to hear. If it had been a silly idea, I believe Rachel would have said so. But I also believe she wouldn’t have told me to give it up. She would have brainstormed with me, help me stumble on the direction I needed to go in to get the story right.
We talked about other ideas that weekend, both things that I’m working on, and stories she’s trying to bring to life. Not just around that fire: sometimes in pajamas on her couch, panting up a hill, driving around after eating milkshakes and whispering in a lavishly mosaiced church. Every time I just felt better about writing, more confident that if I just sit down, I can actually pound out something worth reading.