You can’t buy this stuff:

There is one myth about writers that I have always felt was particularly pernicious and untruthful — the myth of the “lonely writer,” the myth that writing is a lonely occupation, involving much suffering because, supposedly, the writer exists in a state of sensitivity which cuts him off, or raises him above, or casts him below the community around him. This is a common cliche, a hangover probably from the romantic period and the idea of the artist as Sufferer and Rebel . . . I suppose there have been enough genuinely lonely suffering novelists to make this seem a reasonable myth, but there is every reason to suppose that such cases are the result of less admirable qualities in these writers, qualities which have nothing to do with the vocation of writing itself . . . Unless the writer has gone utterly out of his mind, his aim is still communication, and communication suggests talking inside community.

-Flannery O’Connor

(Via the front flap of The Company They Keep by Diana Gyler)

This was probably the best part of guitar  studio and music school in general – being pushed forward by peers performing all around you. Writing has got to be the same way I think.

Along these same lines, Gyler quotes Karen Lefevre:

There will always be great need for individual initiative, but not matter how inventive an individual wants to be, he will be influenced for better or for worse by the intellectual company he keeps. On top of Mt. Mansfield in Vermont, there are thirty-year-old trees that are only three feet tall. If a tree begins to grow taller, extending beyond the protection of the others, it dies. The moral for inventors: Plant yourself in a tall forest if you hope to have ideas of stature.

-p.64