Writing in Community: the mirror of friends, and the backward glance

Two weeks ago, I learned about a writing grant opportunity, with about a week to put together an application. I struggled, but I didn’t make the deadline. The project that most needed outside help was also the project that was most ambitious and least formed.

Tonight, I worked with one of my younger colleagues on a similar application. Everything that I “should” have known when I was working on mine, I said aloud, and watched it work for him.

One particularly illuminating moment: we talked about a piece of writing he had done, and he went back and pulled the manuscript from his files and read it and said, “Wow! This is really good! I’d forgotten.”

We’re busy, all of us, often much too busy, and when we go to put together the resume or the curriculum vitae or the bibliography, we forget that we did that stuff, and we forget that it was good. The backward glance, and the conversations with friends and colleagues, let us recollect and recognize ourselves.

After all, we have no idea what we look like when we’re not looking in the mirror.

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