I think all of us have helped each other with our writing, at least a little. At the same time a few of us have struck something deeper, a friendship. But, what can happen as we all become better writers is that we also grow and have different needs, and sometimes we can outgrow each other.
In an ideal situation, we and our peers will continually develop and improve at about the same pace. I have that experience with my wonderful writer's group. We have been together for 5-6 years, and we've all grown as writers and as reviewers, to the point where we are celebrating our different styles and voices while still helping each other get better. Criticisms have diminished because we are all in more control of our art. Now, we can just read each other's work, point out small problems, but generally just enjoy some fine writing among friends. And, our shared high standards inspire us to push ourselves more.
But, I'm not always so lucky. Occasionally I also find myself among a group of writers that are not pushing themselves in the same way that I push myself. For a long time I felt bad about not wanting to work with these people, but in this past week I've come to realize that we have just ended up on different paths. I was so resistant to it, but really it is perfectly natural. Just as we graduate from our various schools, we should understand that we will sometimes graduate from our writing circles. I think we should accept that, maybe even celebrate it, because it is a sign of our improvement and a result of our hard work.
And, most importantly, just because we outgrow some people as writers doesn't mean we must outgrow them as friends. How lovely will it be, when we all get to a place where we can just admire each other's art and enjoy all of the different voices around us?
Have you all ever outgrown your peers or writing circles? Were you able to move on in a way that didn't injure friendships? I feel at peace today because I know that I'm lucky to be in touch with writers that are already good and still wanting to be better.