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[THE WRITER'S LIFE] A Thankful Writer
Written by
Cindy Eastman
November 2017
Written by
Cindy Eastman
November 2017

It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to come up with a title like this for a November piece, does it? Maybe it was the growing number of messages in my email, Facebook — well, everywhere — about Thanksgiving and all the ways we’re supposed to feel right now. Giving, thanking, buying, giving. My thoughts were probably being nudged in that direction, but then something very simple struck me that crystallized my thoughts into that feeling:

I am a thankful writer.

Here’s what I was doing: I was writing, like most writers, in my home office where I tuck myself away to work. I love my little spare-bedroom-turned-office.  It’ll never appear in a Poets & Writers Ten Cozy Writing Nooks feature, but there’s a desk, a Mac, my books and I can close the door and be alone, so I’m good. One tiny problem is that when the temperature drops, as it is wont to do here in Connecticut, my house gets cold. When my house gets cold, my little black IKEA desk gets really cold. After a day of using the keyboard or mouse, my bones start to develop a chill that might take until May to thaw. But the other day, I simply took out my cool writer’s gloves, pulled them on and continued writing. Thanks to my friend and writing group member Trudy, these fingerless gloves leave my fingers free, but the rest of my hand covered. Not only do I feel like a hip, artsy writer wearing them, I’m actually able to write longer because I’m not constantly rubbing my hands together. They are a gift that is more than an accessory; they are the means to my getting my work done. These gloves warm more than just my chilly fingers.  

After several years of writing about writing, I try to be careful to not repeat myself. It’s not always that easy because there are some topics that simply bear repeating, for example learning how to balance writing time with the rest of our lives. (I can write about that ‘til the cows come home.) I’ve also written about writing being a gift and I’ve written about the benefit of writers groups (here and here). But the most singular thing about being a writer is that our work is solo. And I, like most writers, am an introvert.  I can work alone for days on end. Ironically, the output of being a writer--a book, an essay, an article--ends up in the hands of other people. People who will criticize, opine or otherwise judge it. Why would I do such work?  

The reason, of course, is that I know other writers. My writing group is small... just three of us. Besides Trudy, there is David and we meet semi-regularly for writerly work and commiseration. There are other writers, too, who are an email or a text away. We need each other because we are people who have opened up a vein and bled* on a page and then had to suture ourselves up so we can refinance a mortgage or show up at a day job or simply walk out the front door. We all understand each other's love of words — writing them, reading them, thinking about them. And we get the compulsion to spill them out onto paper, rearranging and crafting as we go.

I’ve been other things in my life: a teacher, a bartender, a store clerk, a secretary. Being a writer is the closest thing to my soul that I’ve ever done. As such, my insides are exposed and not everyone I know is comfortable with that. I get skittish, I retreat. But I go back to the work every day. Writers--and other artists--know this pull, this thrall. Resistance is futile! Thank god I know other writers.

Thank God they know me.

*The actual quote by Red Smith is, ''Writing is easy, I just open a vein and bleed.''

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