I belong to a marvelous writers group. We call ourselves Salon Quatre (adding a little French somehow makes us more literary). In less than two years Bill has published a book about a young Marine’s experience in the Pacific theatre of World War II (whose story is featured in the HBO series The Pacific). Drema has twenty publications of her warm and witty stories of growing up in the coal country of West Virginia and has won a nice handful of prizes along the way. Judith has continued to write her compelling poetry and has taken her ambitions to a new level—and will, in a bittersweet way, be moving across the country to pursue her dreams. Then there’s me, who comes to you every week here at Grace Notes and is getting closer to the finish line of a novel that has been churning around my brain for quite a while now. While driving to our first meeting since our summer break I was filled with gratitude to be part of such a group of writers and dear friends. My ‘career’ path has taken so many more turns than I could have expected since the days of eating lunch in Marillac Hall at St. John’s when we talked about our futures, our plans and whatever issues that piqued our young minds before we were launched out in the wider world. I didn’t realize at the time how important those lunch meetings were. But now I do. We met over common interests, common geography (school, liberal arts majors, having lunch in Marillac Hall because that’s where many of our classes met) and a buzz of the electricity of youth and ideas and philosophies that are some of the best prizes of tuition.
In the order of priorities of the pleasures in life, I rank great conversation and exchange of ideas pretty darn close to the top, just a tiny notch below reading, which is as important as breathing and sleeping to me.
My ‘career’ such as it is, has always incorporated the world of ideas, meaning, connection, history, philosophy—oh, you get the idea. If I had to work on an assembly line I would probably get fired for trying to start conversations with my fellow workers. I would linger over lunch just to keep the conversation going. If I didn’t have intelligent people to talk to I think I’d bust. Really, I’d pop a blood vessel or the top of my head would burst open in frustration.
Since Judith is moving across the country, the nature of our writers group will be different. Ah, but here is something else to be grateful for: e-mail and ‘meeting’ rooms where we can deposit our latest work and continue the critique & feedback process that has contributed greatly to the progress each of us has made over the last two years.
Ain’t life grand?