Friendship and writing desire: both last
Always craving more writing time (aside from the procrastination), I’ve chosen to keep up or reconnect with only a very few friends. And I realize an essential characteristic of real friendship: time doesn’t matter. However long the moments, weeks, or years between contacts, real friendship knows no steel-banded boundaries of time, distance, erratic mobile phone connections, or sporadic emails.
I recall a friend of twenty years ago, and I still cherish our many calls and visits. When we both moved, our interests diverged and contact ended.
Thinking about her with great affection recently, I phoned the office where her husband had worked. He’d left that position several years earlier, and only one secretary remembered him. She had no current information.
Then I went to the blessed Internet. A little ingenuity, some dogged clicks, a few more chases, and . . . in front of me stared my friend’s current address and phone number!
Excited, I called and left a message as warm and non-telemarketing-like as I could muster. A day later, she called back.
Hearing each other’s voices, we screamed like schoolgirls and talked for thirty minutes, filling in the years and exchanging the latest. We’ve been emailing ever since. No time had passed.
Sure, our life circumstances and activities had changed, but our mutual respect and affection, and even our voices, hadn’t. In that call, we exchanged confidences as if over coffee yesterday, with no gap in trust.
Now, however long or short our silences, we confide our latest projects and dreams. We goad each other, pearl-like, to greater growth. We report uncomfortable new realizations, share small mistakes and greater victories, and support each other in our goals. No time has passed.
Writing, I’ve discovered too, is like friendship. Whether we crave to write in academics, fiction, poetry, or any other genre, if we haven’t written for days, months, years, even decades, the desire stays with us, like affection between old friends. If we want to write a novel at 20, as Julia Cameron (1993) observes, we will still want to at 80.
We can stubbornly ignore our writing urge, try to forget it, bury it under all kinds of other—essential, we tell ourselves—activities and pursuits. But eventually we must acknowledge the pull.
And here’s the miracle: like true friends’ love, we can rediscover and reactivate our need of, captivation by, and talent for writing the moment we choose. As if no time has passed.
I proved this truth a number of years ago. After a long frozen spell, I discovered Cameron’s (1992) morning pages—three handwritten pages daily, no matter what. Skeptical, I was sure I’d lost all drive, motivation, and not a little ability. Somehow, though, I made myself do the morning pages daily.
At first, all I could manage, like diary confessions, were sour complaints about my relatives, my work, my weight, my life, and the writing virus eating my insides. But gradually, all the grousing and cursing wore out. Instead, from those three daily pages began to poke up succinct phrases, perfectly caught descriptions, natural alliterations, and wholly apt metaphors. With the morning pages’ God-sent prodding heat, I finally melted my massive writer’s glacier.
Six years after producing almost nothing, and previously sure that any aptitude had vanished, I felt again the blissful and thrilling power of writing. (I’ve continued, and eventually with publications.)
So, like true friendship, you never lose your connection with your writing. Time between contacts or drafts doesn’t dilute; recriminations, excuses, or apologies don’t diminish the yearning or the latent gift.
Even if you bury, hide, and turn away for long moments, your writing drive and talent remain. Maybe they’re in the attic under old grimy blankets, outmoded assumptions of what life is for, or crowded into a dim corner with sorry past projects. But your desire still waits for you to clear away the debris, shake off those blankets, and lift it out.
Under all that grime and time, your writing is intact. Greet it without guilt, like the friend it is. Know that no time passes. And just start again.
Cameron, J. (1992). The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity. Tarcher/Putnam.
Cameron, J. (1993). The Artist’s Way: Meeting Your Creative Myths and Monsters. Sounds True audiotape.
© 2023 Noelle Sterne
Dissertation coach, nurturer, bolsterer, handholder, and editor; scholarly and mainstream writing consultant; author of writing craft, spiritual, and academic articles; and spiritual and motivational counselor, Noelle Sterne has published over 700 pieces in print and online venues, including Author Magazine, Chicken Soup for the Soul, Children’s Book Insider, Graduate Schools Magazine, GradShare, InnerSelf, Inspire Me Today, Transformation Magazine, Unity Magazine, Women in Higher Education, Women on Writing, Writer’s Digest, and The Writer. With a Ph.D. from Columbia University, Noelle has for 30 years helped doctoral candidates wrestle their dissertations to completion (finally). Based on her practice, her Challenges in Writing Your Dissertation: Coping with the Emotional, Interpersonal, and Spiritual Struggles (Rowman & Littlefield Education, September 2015) addresses students’ often overlooked or ignored but crucial nonacademic difficulties that can seriously prolong their agony. See the PowerPoint teaser here. In Noelle`s Trust Your Life: Forgive Yourself and Go After Your Dreams (Unity Books, 2011), she draws examples from her academic consulting and other aspects of life to help readers release regrets and reach lifelong yearnings. Following one of her own, she is currently working on her third novel. Visit Noelle at www.trustyourlifenow.com