BREN DUBAY

Coming Home to Write

A Writing Friend

Tom Key — Photo by Jason Vail

Have you ever seen someone from a distance and thought “friendship at first sight?” I saw Tom Key from a distance when I watched him in a film of a stage production of Cotton Patch Gospel Musical. Not too long afterward, I met him in person. Conversation came easy, the laughter comfortable. The friendship was spontaneous like it had been there all along waiting for us to finally get in the same room and recognize each other.

Tom was Artistic Director of Theatrical Outfit in Atlanta, GA when we met and was a busy man. Still, we would get together for lunch as schedules permitted and talk about art. No matter how long it had been since our last meeting, it seemed like no time had passed. We took up the conversation where we left off, there had been but a moment between sentences.

In 2020, Tom left his position at Theatrical Outfit — which was planned before the world pandemic. He continues to act in film and on stage. And he is writing. I knew it! I knew he was a writer. He and I now have a telephone call scheduled for the third Tuesday of each month — maybe, after the pandemic is over, some months we will have lunch together again — to talk about art and to encourage each other to write.

Not all writers have a Tom Key, a writing friend. But if you do, know you have a treasure. If there is someone in your life who can be this kind of friend to you, approach her or him. Writers need all the support they can get. A writer needs a writing friend.

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