This is an Environment of Welcoming

March 10, 2024

Writing is supposedly a solitary form of artistic creation, but I don’t know any writers who live in isolation. Maybe that’s a True Scotsman logical fallacy; once I know of a writer, they can’t be isolated – can they? But what I am trying to get at is that the human spirit can’t abide long stretches of loneliness. Even the most misanthropic of individuals will eventually step out of their cave and into the village, if only for enough time to gather supplies for their next bout of hermetic existence. Generally, though, people find a way to connect with others as a way of ensuring their continued survival. If you know about me, and you care about me, you’re not going to let me disappear.

Forming these connections – now that’s the tricky part. What if you’re the kind of person who doesn’t really see themselves as part of the community? What if your whole v i b e is being an outcast? The kind of people whose middle school selves wore t-shirts declaring, “You laugh at me because I’m different. I laugh at you because you’re all the same.” Eventually the shirt is too small to wear and you’ve got to pick a new outfit. Which store do you go to? How do you know is a good look for you?

Observation. Awareness. Picking up on context clues. These are essential skills for any person, but especially those who identify as artists. For a long time, I’ve been pretty good at observing other people and figuring out why they behave the way they do. I’ve been pretty bad at observing my own self, understanding why I say and think the things I do. So to be clear: I am not beyond criticism, and this website is a space where I am gathering feedback for continual refinement of my approach to the creative process.

But damn if there aren’t people who claim to be artists but roll into spaces like bulls. I met one yesterday at a gathering of writers. This group meets bi-weekly, and membership is fluid. For instance, I’ve been going since early December and have seen multiple one-time visitors; I’m a newcomer compared to those who’ve attended since the summer months. That fluidity is a feature, not a bug – the group does not try to put limits or restrictions on how you show up. As a person who is used to receiving a handbook as part of my onboarding process, I’m glad to be part of a group so open to co-creating a new experience every two weeks.

Having written all of this, maybe I don’t actually need to describe what happened. After all, I spent less than twenty minutes with the person. I can’t adequately capture their humanity, and am hesitant to try on the near-permanent platform known as the Internet. What I can do is attempt to illustrate why I felt so uncomfortable, why I am frustrated with our inability as a species to be in community with all people.

When I enter a space, I take a look around. I see the faces of those I’m gathered with; I listen to their words; I develop a sense of how this group works. That’s when I’ll contribute thoughts; that’s when I’ll ask questions. I don’t barge in, demand that my needs be met, and bail once I got what I came for. Those people, frankly, are assholes.

Don’t be an asshole. You’re welcome to spend as much time here as you’d like, then make whatever comments you have. And if that doesn’t work for you, you should just get the hell out of here.


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