I. She is a writer.
“I’m just a fiery sort of person,” she said one day.
Now, every time I think of her, I think that word — fiery.
And she’s right. She’s fiery as hell. She is one of those people who would probably scare the shit out of me if I didn’t know her, to be honest, because she is so confident in herself. When we talk about novels, she asserts her opinion — “oh, I really liked it,” or “oh, that’s shite” — so strongly. Not like me, who ventures opinions out like tendrils of fog that are whisked away with a strong breeze — “Oh, I didn’t really like it but I don’t know if I really got it so there is probably a lot to learn from it that I missed.”
If she’s fire, maybe I’m air.
II. We are students.
The way we met was almost unbearably kindergarten. Even though my mom was 6,000 miles away, maybe she was also kind of there on my first day, gently pushing me towards the other kids on the playground while I clutched her legs, not wanting to talk to anyone new.
We met on this program. First day. I was running late to the induction for the School of Critical Studies and the Glasgow humidity made me sweat in probably the least attractive manner possible. There was one seat still open, so I asked, in all my sweaty glory, if I could sit next to her, and she said yes.
“Which program are you in?” One of us asked. I can’t remember if it was me or her.
Now, where I grew up, and even where I went to college, I didn’t have any “writer friends.” Though it was quite possibly my own fault, as I probably would have been too intimidated by anyone who considered themselves a writer.
III. We are writers.
We slough through huge, expansive word counts. She, self-assured and poised, doesn’t seem to need my help much. She already has the flashlight and is trekking through the marshy territory of the unknown, while I’m still trying to gain my footing. I might have a map buried somewhere in my backpack, but she doesn’t seem to need a map. She knows. She is bold, ruthlessly so. It is both inspiring and intimidating.
My fear of word counts so high that they are cliffs — precarious and jagged — begins to seem silly. Fear of the unknown always seems sillier with someone next to you.
IV. I am a writer
When I met her I wasn’t. At least, I didn’t think of myself as one. But maybe, now, I might be?
It probably helps that our friendship has also coincided with many other important writing milestones. But my friendship with her kept me accountable to those milestones.
Hit them, our friendship said, then pick a new one, then hit that one. And don’t just hit it, tackle it. Bowl that motherfucker over with your strong voice and goddamn word choice. Make it crumble, feel that milestone turn from insurmountable obstacle made of diamond-like granite, to soft powdery sand under the power of your writing. Make it bow to you. Be confident.
Be a writer.
Riana Hull is a California-born, but distantly educated woman. After spending three of her undergraduate years at Smith College, MA and one year in Florence, Italy, she lived in the UK to study for her MLitt at the University of Glasgow’s Creative Writing Program. She is currently working on nonfiction submissions for literary magazines, as well as her novel.