On shared solitude.

When I left my job at the casino, I was glad for nothing more than the solitariness that it would afford me. I mean sure, I love my family and wanted to be around them as much as possible, but at precisely 8:01 every day I found myself with a joyful surfeit of free time to practice my craft the way it was meant to be practiced: alone.

Because writing, in my humble opine, is not a social activity. Leastaways, not a first blush. Because no matter how many beta readers and wellwishers and editors and general hangers-on become adhered to the writer’s carapace at some point (of course at that point, having had none too few of these, I could only posit their existence and scoff roundly at their lack of necessity), the inception of a story is — like birth and death — a thing that one must ultimately do alone.

But then that got boring so I went to the coffee shop.

Having ordered an espresso of impressively irresponsible volume, I spread my manifold belongings out as far as common decency would allow. Notebook, pen roll (containing one Pilot Namiki Vanishing Point, 2x Lamy Safaris, and a mongrel Chinese knockoff of a Parker fp), laptop, charger, scone, foolscap, jacket, coat, imaginings, megrims, whimsy and feigned indifference, each relegated to its own little sector in an orbit around me, the creative gyre.

And then I had to pee.

Daunted by the sheer possibility of having to pack my cornucopia of belongings back into my recently-disgorged bag, I looked around for assistance and spied an amicable-looking pair of folks around my age, male and female, observing however obliquely my growing renal panic.

“Hey,” I said. “You two look trustworthy. You mind watching my stuff while I pee?”

“Sure!” they said, little knowing the portent of their acquiescence.

Having peed quickly, all the while visions of pilfered electronics (bad) and purloined fountain pens (worse) dancing in my head, I returned to find not a spare belonging out of place.

“It go okay?” I asked.

“Some guy tried to take your stuff,” the female of the two said. “I almost had to stab him.”

“You shoulda done it,” I replied. “Nothing warns off ne’er do wells like a preemptory stabbing.”

We made friends fast.

They introduced themselves as Erin and Adam, who in turn introduced me to Ty, who introduced me to a day job, and Lise, who now regularly saves my ass from things like split infinitives and participles whose penchant for dangling is considered unseemly in some circles, as well as multitudes of other creatives, many of whom you will find filling these hallowed pages with their reflections.

These folks, who some call the Collaborative and others call those loud, crass bohemians in the corner booth, have been my constant companions these months past, introducing me without reservation to their own friends and contacts, whose massed and byzantine connections are too numerous to count.

These are people make art for art’s sake, but who understand why you might want to sell yours. They keep their eyes peeled and their ears to the ground, waiting not for some personal payout, but for opportunities that will better the whole. They are a massed proletariat whose collective strength bends towards naught but goodwill and imagination.

It has been strange and wonderful getting to know them.

So yeah, writing is solitary. There is no one to put pen to page for you. You gotta do that on your own or not at all. But sometimes you just gotta run yourself aground on some hospitable-looking isle and make friends with the natives, because as I’m learning by increments, writing soothes the muse, but friendship fills the soul.

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Mike Speegle

Mike Speegle defies description. He-...wait, what? Oh, sorry. Hang on...Mike Speegle is easily described. He's a man who loves words so damn much that he spends all of his free time either staring hard at their amassed ranks, or rearranging them into arcane simulacra whose ultimate purpose is a mystery even unto he himself.Also, he is flagrantly self-aggrandizing and will ceaselessly entreat all who will listen to part with their hard-earned legal tender in order to purchase the dreck he floods the literary marketplace with. (He also wantonly ends sentences with prepositions, the cad.)

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  • This, I love, as you very well know.

  • Matt McGee

    Beautifully written, Mike.

  • Michael Speegle

    Thanks! I really appreicate it.

  • Michael Speegle

    And I love that it happened!

  • Steve Meddaugh

    Well said, Mike – great story! And I love how you ended: “writing soothes the muse, but friendship fills the soul.” Perfectly stated and so true…