As with so many things, the answer to my question is not binary. “Do writers have friends?” isn’t honestly a yes or no question. Some do, some don’t. I imagine many of us fall on a spectrum between.
In a recent episode of their podcast A Tiny Sense of Accomplishment, writers Sherman Alexie and Jess Walter discussed this idea. Alexie read somewhere that writers have three things in their lives: family, friends, and writing. And one of them will suffer.
The question, then, is—what’ll it be? For Alexie and Walter, it’s clearly friendships.
That’s been my experience as well.
I know plenty of writers who have put writing on the shelf to attend to family and friends instead. Whether you include your church circle as family or friends depends on your point of view, I suppose. To me, my church family is family.
This, of course, presumes that you’ve already eliminated time-wasters like television. Seriously, I only watch one TV show anymore, and since they only produce about eight episodes of Doctor Who a year now, that frees up a lot of time.
Still, my friendships suffer. And you know what? I don’t care.
I suppose if I cared, I’d write less and socialize more.
Instead, I write more.
A neighbor—a friend I now see roughly monthly instead of weekly, since I stopped attending our regular Friday night dinners—asked what kind of social life I have.
Church activities and writers groups. Occasionally conferences. Facebook. That’s about it.
I don’t hang out in coffee shops, except for business meetings. I don’t go to the movies. I only have dinner with the neighbors on special occasions.
And I like it that way.
Yes, that means most of my friendships are probably shallow. But you know something? In the last six months, I finished a novel, wrote a novella, and wrote a nonfiction book. I’m not trading that for hanging out at the bar with my neighbors.
What do you think? Do your friendships suffer because of your writing? Or the other way around?