As I’ve chosen to reduce socializing in favor of more writing time, and have chosen to keep up or reconnect with very few friends, I’ve realized an essential characteristic of friendship: time doesn’t matter. However lengthy 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 recalled a friend of twenty years ago. I still cherished our many calls and visits. But then we both moved, our interests diverged, and contact ended.
Thinking about her, a few years ago, I phoned the office where her husband had worked. He’d left that position several years earlier. Only one secretary remembered him, and she couldn’t give me any information on his present location.
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 address and phone number!
Excited, I called and left my message as warmly and non-telemarketing-like as I could. 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 changed, but our mutual warmth and affection, and even our voices, did not. In that recent call, we exchanged confidences as if we’d had coffee together yesterday, with no gap in mutual trust. Now, however long or short our silences, we confide our latest projects and dreams and 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, is like friendship. If the desire to write knocks at us, and we haven’t for days, months, years, decades, the desire stays with us, like affection for old friends. If we want to write a novel at 20, Julia Cameron observes, we’ll still want to at 80 (The Artist’s Way: Meeting Your Creative Myths and Monsters, Sounds True Audiotape, 1993).
We can stubbornly ignore our writing urge, try to forget it, bury it under all kinds of other activities and pursuits. But eventually we must acknowledge that pull. And here’s the miracle: like true friends’ love, we can rediscover and reactivate our need, captivation, and talent the moment we choose. As if no time has passed.
I proved this a number of years ago. After a frozen spell of several years, I discovered Cameron’s morning pages—three handwritten pages daily, no matter what (see The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity). Skeptical, I was sure I’d lost all drive, motivation, and a little ability. Somehow, though, I made myself do the morning pages, and with their God-sent prodding heat, finally melted my massive writer’s glacier.
At first, though, 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. Gradually, all that grousing and cursing eventually wore out. Instead, from those three daily pages began to poke up succinct phrases, perfectly caught descriptions, natural alliterations, and wholly apt metaphors. Six years after producing almost nothing, and previously sure that any aptitude had vanished, I felt again the blissful and thrilling power of writing.
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 need to be uttered.
Even if buried, hidden, turned away from for long moments, your writing drive and talent remain. Maybe they’re in the attic under old grimy blankets and 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.
So, blow off the dust with a decisive strong breath. Under all that grime and time, your writing is intact. Greet it like the friend it is. And, with no time passing, just resume.
Author, editor, writing coach, and spiritual counselor, Noelle Sterne has published over 300 pieces in print and online venues, including Writer’s Digest, The Writer, Women on Writing, Funds for Writers, Children’s Book Insider, Transformation Magazine, and Unity Magazine. A story appears in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Just Us Girls (2013). With a Ph.D. from Columbia University, for over 28 years Noelle has assisted doctoral candidates to complete their dissertations (finally). Based on her practice, she is completing a handbook for doctoral students to aid them practically, psychologically, and spiritually. In her 2011 book Trust Your Life: Forgive Yourself and Go After Your Dreams (Unity Books), Noelle draws on examples from her academic consulting and other aspects of life to help readers release regrets, relabel their past, and reach their lifelong yearnings. Her webinar about the book is on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=95EeqllONIQ&feature=youtu.be Website: www.trustyourlifenow.com.