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Writing is often described as a lonely pursuit. I think at times it can be, but not for the reasons you might think. Sure, a writer works in solitude, but there really isn't any other way to do it. And if you talk to writers, you'll find that most of them are constantly battling for more solitude, not less.
Oddly enough, I think, the problem comes when one emerges from that solitude, when we find ourselves still struggling with the work we are trying to get done, the technical issues raised by that work, and the enormous weight of self-doubt that plagues us all. The only people we can talk about this with are other writers, but we don't always have writers in our company. Hence, the loneliness.
That's why last week's Vermont College of Fine Arts postgrad writer's conference was such a thrill. For a whole week, I got to spend time with some of the best writers (and best people) on the planet. It was a week of utter indulgence, a time to just talk about, think about, and learn about writing, and a time to push back the demons of self-doubt and prepare for the battle ahead.
Thanks so much to Ellen Lesser and Jericho Parms for putting on an amazing conference, and to all the wonderful teachers, including the dynamic Steve Almond, who led our workshop with humor, generosity, and grace. And thanks especially to my fellow students, who I still felt beside me as I sat down to write this morning, a little less lonely than before. You are my people, and I am glad to be with you on this journey.