It’s a myth that good writing requires solitude. Or, at least, it’s a half-truth.
When I teach, I tell my students this: We write in community. What I mean by this is that writing is an act of connection, a communion. When I write, I’m holding out my hand to the world and its beauties, its heartbreaks and mysteries, its crowds of other imperfect and complex people. And, of course, I’m also forging a connection with my reader — who (I hope!) will see my words and think, Yes! It’s not just me! I’m not alone after all. We’re in this together. I may be alone when I actually put words onto the page, but the great majority of a writing life is about community, not solitude.
Community, however, must be created. It must be intentionally built and tended. Over the last year-and-a-half, I’ve been glad to be part of the Hugo House/Write Our Democracy partnership that is doing the work of sustaining a space in which community can flourish. Once a quarter, my co-organizer Julia Hands and I have held a “Write-In” — a Saturday morning gathering of local writers and readers in support of the values of free speech and literary activism. These “write-ins” have brought together established and emerging writers to share work, to make connections, to open conversations, and to inspire one another to keep writing. I always leave these Saturday mornings feeling renewed and energized, reminded of why I write and why I’m grateful to be part of the literary community.
This spring, we’re altering the pattern just a bit. On June 9, from 10 am–noon at Hugo House, we’ll host a “teach-in” in additional partnership with Seattle Escribe. Several Seattle-area writers (including Seattle Civic Poet Anastacia-Renée, Wendy Call, Dalia Maxum, and Kristen Millares Young) will lead mini-classes (about 30 minutes each) on a range of topics related to community and social advocacy. The morning will close with these writers reading from their sure-to-be inspiring work. And, as always, this event will be free and open to the whole community.
Kirsten Sundberg Lunstrum is the author of three collections of short fiction. Her most recent collection, What We Do With the Wreckage, won the 2017 Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction and will be released in October of 2018 by University of Georgia Press. Her prior two collections were Swimming With Strangers and This Life She’s Chosen. Her short fiction and nonfiction have been widely published in journals and anthologies, and she has been a Jack Straw writer (2016) the recipient of a PEN/O. Henry Prize, and the recipient of fellowships from the MacDowell Colony and the Sewanee Writers Conference. She’s a member of the faculty and director of the secondary program at a small, independent school near Seattle.