So, I just spent a week on a mountain in New Hampshire. Some call it the enchanted forest, the bubble, or the Shire. It was the winter residency for Southern New Hampshire University’s graduate program in creative writing.
It is a time and place where we immerse in a writerly life. Debates on point of view or conversations about character development become the norm instead of the exception. For a few days, our writing and our roles as writers surge to the forefront of our lives. The disciplined among us write every day. The least disciplined still write…a lot. However, for most of the year, titles like parent or spouse or employee or boss preempt the title of writer.
In the shire, we are writers and nothing more and nothing less. We teach, learn, discuss, argue, tease, play, share, discern, ramble, read, perform, consider, digest, exult and dive deeply into a world of words. Words matter at all times and all places in the world, but in the shire we celebrate their value. For a few days, sentence structure matters more than portfolio balance. Voice trumps box scores. Theme beats national debt and primaries.
In the shire, we are only and entirely writers. We leave to return to our alter egos. They pay bills, sit in traffic, change diapers, clock in and out, and worry about cholesterol. Behind the mask though, we are still and always writers.
Today I boarded a plane to return to the lair of my alter ego. He wears a tie and frets over market share. In the air, the plane and sun reached just such angles that ground level water between were refracted in dazzling sparks. A river, reflected at six hundred miles per hour, was a blasting fuse of light and color. I might have been the only one on the airborne bus to notice, and I smiled as I scrambled for a pen and paper to record the sight.
Writing is a mostly solitary pursuit. For most, it is at best a secondary one. Some lucky few of us have been juiced by the shire. We’ll ride that high until we reconvene on an island. Remember though that whatever mask your alter ego wears, you’re a writer.
I’m Darren, and I write.