A Cornucopia of Conversation

Writers are usually thought of as solitary beings. They write all alone in quiet spaces or coffee shops, never talking to anyone until their work is done. Their ideas spring forth from deep inside their brains. They create worlds based on their own visions. Or so people say…

The truth is writers do not operate in a vacuum.

We rely on other people. Conversations move our ideas forward. They challenge us and inspire us. They teach us how to think and give us models for dialogue, whether that’s to illustrate characters talking in a story or to help us to imagine a reader who can point out the holes in our ideas.

The greatest gift I’ve been given as a writer is other people.

My best writing is directly the result of interaction with others—paper ideas formed from class discussion, blog posts spurred by the desire to rant after a debate, dissertation proposals crafted from chats with advisors and professors about my academic passions and frustrations. They helped me see things I simply could not see on my own. They moved me past writer’s block by helping me to reframe problems. And sometimes, they gave me confidence by telling me I had good ideas or letting me know I wasn’t alone in my struggles. I am grateful for everyone who has paused to share their thoughts with me.

And of course, conversation happens in the CWE every day.

I am truly thankful for the opportunity to be a consultant. At the Center, I’m lucky enough to talk to writers about their ideas. I learn so much about writing and about other fields from the conversations I have with writers and fellow consultants, things I would never know otherwise.

I am indebted to others.

Thanksgiving, a time when people come together to celebrate the good in their lives (putting aside the awful colonial context), is the perfect time to set out to have more conversations. Recognize the strength that lies in talking through your ideas with others, in finding inspiration from those around you, in sharing writing, which often feels like a piece of yourself put on paper.

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1 Comment »

  • Janet says:

    I’ve been telling my students that the image of a writer alone in an isolated cabin isn’t true and would only lead to writer’s block. It is definitely the conversation and exchange of ideas that make us writers.


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