Being abroad with twelve other people is amazing. It forces you make friends in way you usually don’t: being trapped together. This trip had an extra twist: we got to write together too. But I don’t want to waste this blogpost by congratulating myself over the new friends I’ve made. Everyone makes new friends studying abroad. Hell, that’s kind of the point.
What I will say, though, is that I’ve cultivated a far more intimate writing relationship with these new friends than I have with anyone else in my life. We interact at once on a personal and academic level. We laugh and joke together, but we also write together. I have never felt comfortable reading my pieces aloud to others or commenting on other’s works. Especially people I don’t know. Yet being abroad with other writers has made me more comfortable. I feel like I can share my pieces without being belittled, bullied, or berated. I do not dismiss their feedback. I do not fear giving feedback. Because I trust these people.
I trust these new friends of mine because they are my writing friends. Our relationships have been forged in the crucible of the workshop. The long and tedious, yet endlessly informative workshop. I’ve never had writing friends before, and it feels good. I no longer look forward to comments on my pieces as a way to validate myself, but rather to learn what my friends have to say about it. And I no longer look forward to commenting on other pieces as a way to sound smart and be pedantic, but rather to hear what they have to say.
I’ll finish up by simply saying that writing with friends and for friends has made writing way more fun. To have an audience that you want to impress, not for a grade, but because you genuinely crave their feedback and their knowledge is not a common thing in college. For once I have enjoyed the challenge of revising my pieces and the hard work it takes to come up with original material. I like my writing friends. I want to keep them. And I want to make new ones.