A couple years ago in Tucson, I had the pleasure of sitting down to supper with a remarkable handful of author friends: Jean Kwok, Edan Lepucki, and Scott Turrow. We’d traveled across the miles for a book festival and had spent the day at our various speaking events. All were exhausted, slightly sweaty, and hungry, which lent both a familial and illusive vibe to our gathering.
The restaurant was western themed: colored lights had been strung between red pepper skeins; the walls were a rainbow of Mexican tiles; a giant Long Horn skull hung over the entrance. The building was a local icon and had once been the town’s signature hotel. We sat inside away from the patio crowd despite our knees banging into one another under the table. Intimate was the word we whispered. That didn’t bother us. Our waitress had an Annie Oakley drawl and was quick and skilled on the pours. Mariachi music played faintly from a jukebox.
I couldn’t tell you what we ate or drank, though I know we did because our table was full of empty dishes in the photos. While substantial, the meal wasn’t what filled us. The company did. For hours, we talked of our writing, our business, our loved ones, those we admire, and our dreams for the future. As storytellers, it’s important to listen, too. To stop supplying the narratives and allow our own creative cup to be replenished by others. I loved hearing how each friend came to write and publish and be; what they struggled with then and now; and most importantly, the path they saw ahead.
It’s an incredible gift for a writer to find a group of peers she both admires and trusts. I’d go so far as to say that it is an essential of being a progressive author— an author in progress—the art of communal learning.
Scott and Jean shared a piece of cake for dessert. I ate all the whipped cream off Edan’s chocolate mousse. We drank coffee and laughed until the place was about to close up. Scott, being the gentleman that he is, picked up the check, and we left. Writing quills blown to the four winds.
Since then, each of us has given birth to a new book. (In Edan’s case, a book and a baby!) So I thought this might be the perfect opportunity to get the gang back together. In spirit, I’m bumping elbows with Edan and spooning off her plate. Jean and Scott are across the table kicking our shins and lifting glasses. That’s the beauty of our craft and friendship: all we need do is write, and we are together again.
So pull up a chair, friends, the three questions on the virtual table are:
1) What did your first book teach you?
2) What is your current book teaching you?
3) What do you hope to have perfected by the end of your career? [Read more…]