Why creatives need each other, or, another lesson from Papa Hemingway

Perhaps I need to open a Restaurant and Social Club for Writers and Artists

Being a writer/artist can be a lonely life. Many of us end up sitting for long hours in quiet rooms writing/painting/creating. (I am tucked away in my tiny studio neatly hidden in my backyard as I write this). Now don’t get me wrong, this is not a complaint, it is certainly something we choose to do. I write better when I am alone and I lose track of time. For some writers, the coffee shop becomes a refuge from the solitude. I know people who write all day in a coffee shop, blocking out the chatter and kicking out chapter after chapter. Then others work at home and end up hanging out in public with fellow writers when they have the chance.

I return to A Moveable Feast often, and I find that I do that when I’m feeling isolated or I start to get into a self-defeating mindset. Even Earnest Hemingway understood the importance of surrounding himself with creative people, including T.S. Eliot, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, Picasso, etc. He liked to be alone and write, but he kept acquaintances and friendships with many creatives. I realize that this glamorous era in Paris when all of these creatives were drinking and socializing and sharing their work makes more sense every day. Yes, they had arguments and it wasn’t all rosy, but the bottom line was that they all encouraged each other. (OK, maybe Fitzgerald and Hemingway stopped encouraging and started bickering, but that’s later. Follow me here for a moment.)

Surrounding yourself with creative people fuels your creative juices. It has to. Being around that kind of energy and enthusiasm and angst can’t do anything else. We are all in the same boat, trying to create and share our work. We all understand the depression and elation that comes with being creative. Why do you think that writer meet-ups are so popular, or that writing groups meet all over the country in bookstores and cafes?

Who do you surround yourself with? Do you have a circle of people who knit with you, scrapbook, etc? If you’re a writer/artist, do you have a core group that “gets you?”

I realize that although I have a few friends who are writers, I don’t frequently hang out with other writers or artists. I had the chance to meet a lovely, encouraging writer recently and what a great feeling it was. Just hearing that someone else had doubts about her success or talent, or that someone else felt the need to create and didn’t know why. It’s a grand and fabulous feeling to talk about your work and be validated, and that’s what all those lucky people in Paris were doing. And that’s what all those lucky people in writing retreats do, and writing meet-ups in cafes. And yes, I know that the cyber world enables us to have relationships with other creatives from the comfort of the back studio, but there is nothing like being face to face with another writer and nodding your head as they express feelings you’ve had so many times.

So, my goal is now to add to my creative circle of people to share my journey. I know it can only be beneficial to me and to everyone else who has a chance to grow from it. Thanks to Shannon for adding me to your circle!



What is it about bookstores?

On a recent visit to New York, I had a long list of places I wanted to visit. Museums, parks, old churches, restaurants. Crazy how much you think you can do on vacation, and yet how little actually gets done.

Of course, once I showed my daughter the list, her eyes jumped right to the Strand Bookstore at the top of the list and she saw nothing else. It has 18 miles of books, what else do you want? It has used and new books, stacks of old books, carts of $2 and $1 books on the street and even a separate floor for antique books. She was in heaven.

What this means is that we spent two days at that bookstore. We didn’t get to the museums because she wanted to return to the bookstore and that was cool with me. The great thing about it was that we didn’t miss the museums at all. Spending two days in a bookstore was a blast and we would have spent three if we could have. We stopped and ate mac & cheese at S’Mac in the Village (nothing but mac and cheese, nothing but divine!), then dove right back into the books.


Mac & Cheese at S’Mac. Can’t stop at just one.

The smell of a bookstore, and the rows and rows of books, are a comforting sight. I feel alive, peaceful, curious, excited and more when I’m in a store like that. I just want to pull up a big comfy chair, cup of tea, cushy blanket, oh wait, I don’t live there. But oh if I could.

We’ve been watching old episodes of Black Books on Netflix since we got back (free on Hulu), a British sitcom about a guy who owns a bookstore. Sounds simple enough, but with typical British humor, Dylan Moran does it while drunk most of the time with a sidekick who is hilarious. Once again, a sitcom in a bookstore has got to be a hit, right? It’s books, what’s not to love?

So, when I need another bookstore fix, I’ll be at Bookman’s or Half Price Books, trying to get that NYC kind of feeling again. But it just won’t be the same.