I need other writers.
I met Vincent Carrella in line to register for the Napa Valley Writer’s Conference late summer 2001. We had an immediate kinship and although we’ve not been able to see each other too frequently, we maintain that closeness. We share a great deal in terms of experience and sensibilities but our most basic connection is simply a shared desire to write–including the doubt that balances desire.
Vinny and I stay in contact through letters and social media. We follow each other’s blogs. We don’t talk as much as either of us would like. Wrapped (warped?) in our busy lives, we crave the transmission line of the creative space.
A few days ago, we spoke on the phone for the first time in perhaps five years. Why so long a break? I don’t know. Life. But when I heard his voice, it was not simply a friend I was talking with, but someone walking the same narrow path between creative expression and creative despair. There is no need to explain doubt to a writer.
On this blog, I write about my doubt and my non-writer friends and family react to the despondency with alarm, concern, or uplifting “go-get-em” inspirational quotes. They often tell me not to take myself so seriously. I need writers like Vinny for the simple reason that they understand. Vinny and I spoke for about 45 minutes. Toward the close of our conversation, he said, “If you ever need reminding, just call me and I’ll remind you that you’re a great writer.”
Do I think of myself as a great writer? Of course not. I think of myself as a competent writer or, on my better days, a good writer (it’s amazing how brilliant the average person deems a merely competent writer), but it’s nice to know that if I’m in the midst of doubt, struggling with the fear of the blank page, there’s a writer in California willing to tell me that I’m great at my craft.
Writers need writers for that type of fleeting elevation that allows us to return to our work, to the lonely job of trying to get the words on the page to match the images in our head.
Thanks Vinny, for being one of those writers who elevates, for continuing to attempt each act of creation, for putting pen to paper despite the enormous odds against it all, and for being a part of my writing life. Here is a link to Vincent Carrella’s wonderful blog: Serpent Box.