Before I was tapped to be part of this group (o fortuitous unearned tap), I thought I had all the friends I needed. I'd reached saturation. I couldn't give the friends I already had the time and energy they deserved, and I already had fabulous friends in many of the arts. Why would I want more?
Back then, I wrote in a vacuum. I wrote alone and didn't talk to anyone about what I was working on. I read writing blogs voraciously, and I thought that I could get everything I needed from them.
And yes, from the internet I learned how to write an effective query letter. I learned how to find an agent. I learned that I needed to write every day to make reliable forward progress (something I hadn't even learned in grad school).
But from the Pens, I learned how to live as a writer. From them, I learned that I wasn't alone in my blatant eavesdropping habits. I wasn't the only person who jotted notes on the clothing of people on BART. I wasn't alone in being unable to sleep when in the first throes of a fresh, perfect, sparkling idea. It was okay to be obsessed, over-the-top in love with your new crush, your work.
I learned that true writer friends will help you figure out where and how to bury the body. They'll tell you when you have toothpaste on your shirt and when your character motivation is unrealistic. And most importantly, I learned that writer friends laugh and laugh and laugh and then laugh some more. The internet is good at transmitting information, but lousy at hugging. Hugs are plentiful with writer friends. Love is real, and strong.
Thank you, ladies. I am so lucky.