Shaun Levin

How I Met My Writer Friends*

In Writing, Writing Workshops on July 7, 2013 at 8:52 pm

We met at a reading.

I don’t remember where we met.

We met at a prize-giving where we both won a prize. You were there with your boyfriend and I might have had a boyfriend, too, but I don’t remember. I had quite a few boyfriends in those days. We all went to a bar after the prize-giving in Covent Garden and then we carried on meeting regularly. We wrote together. I liked writing together. Writing with you changed the way I write, opened up a whole new way of approaching my subject matter: Me. We fell out some years later but have recently got back in touch. I think we like each other. I probably fancied you for a while back then, or was jealous of you, which sometimes amounts to the same thing.

I met you in Wales on a writers’ retreat more than fifteen years ago. We laughed a lot and liked each other’s writing. We hadn’t published any books back then, maybe a few stories, but we were writers. We weren’t going to become anything else. There were others there, but I only remember one of them, and she did become a writer, she was a writer already, and went on to publish a book, maybe two, but we didn’t stay in touch. We tried to, but she lived in another city and I’m not so good when it comes to travelling. You lived just outside London and we met regularly, shared work, wrote together. We published a few books each. There was always a bit of competition between us. I tell myself it’s mainly from your end, but that’s probably not true. I’m not very good at admitting to my competitive side.

People ask us where we met and neither of us can remember. It might have been at a book event or we might have been introduced to each other through two or three mutual friends. I’d heard about you and read your work before we met.

We were both reading that evening at an event in a private gallery in someone’s house in North London. I think that was the first time we met. I loved your work and I loved the way you read and I wanted to be your friend. We were friends for a long time. We wrote together. I loved watching you in public. I loved watching you perform and read your work. I loved the way you dressed. We, too, fell out after a few years, and we, too, have been in touch recently. We’ve had dinner a couple of times, and spoken on the phone. I’m seeing you in the next couple of weeks. We are similar in many ways. We both moan about our lack of recognition. We’re both foreigners in this city.

We met… where did we meet? I don’t remember where we met. We’ve been friends for a couple of years, maybe a bit more, and we talk a lot about writing. I like our conversations about writing. We used to write together every week for a few months, but then we stopped because you wanted to stop, because you said you preferred to write alone. I miss writing together.

Sometimes a few of us get together at dinners, usually at my place, and we have a good time together. Some of us know each other from various places and networks. We’ve all heard of each other, or at least most of us have heard of each other.

I met you at an event in South London where we were both reading. I’d heard about you before, maybe we were friends on Facebook before we met. We have friends in common and we are neighbours and we both love to eat meat. So we hang out every now and then and eat meat and talk about writing and what it’s like to be a bit unhinged, much more unhinged than some people we know.

We met because of a mutual friend. We meet every month or so and do writerly things. We both like coffee and cake and we both like to do Jewish-y things and go to places that are linked to the projects we’re working on. We like each other’s work, the work that we read to each other when we meet up to go places and write, though I have a feeling you’ve never read my work.

When we’re together I am who I’m meant to be. I’m in the world as a writer and I feel alive and abundant. I like it when we write together. If I could, I would do all my writing with you. And you. And you. I don’t always like being alone in a room writing, which is probably why I enjoy writing in cafés and art galleries and parks and wherever I can that is not at my desk. I write there with you or with people around me, one of whom could be looking at me and thinking whether to get up and approach, whether to sit down on the bench next to me with their notebook in their lap and silently, without saying a word to each other, because all words must be saved for the work, lift their pen to that blank page and write.

* written in response to the question: Where can I meet other writers?

  1. Yup. Love the honesty about competitiveness! And now I’m trying to remember how I first met you…

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