“Writing, at its best, is a lonely life. Organizations for writers palliate the writer’s loneliness, but I doubt if they improve his writing. He grows in public stature as he sheds his loneliness and often his work deteriorates. For he does his work alone and if he is a good enough writer he must face eternity, or the lack of it, each day.” Ernest Hemingway
Alas – the lonely writer. A dying breed of the classic author. A throwback to the romantic writing era when one claimed to be a serious writer, would sequester themselves for days on end. Haunted by inner demons, the
sober somber author of olde would draw down the shades, live off booze and cigarettes, and become one with the typewriter.
Ah, their stamina! Their power! Their ability to flail themselves upon the keys and churn out something worthwhile and holy! The mere thought of those stoic kindred spirits of the past make me want to grab my crotch, hock up some sinus phlegm and hope I get published.
You see, by today’s standards, I am in the minority. I am a lonely writer.
Even while using the plethora of writer’s community opportunities that are at my fingertips, there are those nights where I sit in my dark, studio apartment and cry in the isolation I find myself in. Yet, I ask for no sympathy because this is a path that I have chosen.
That’s right. I choose to be alone.
Perhaps it’s due to my bi-polarism. And the fact that I have the attention span of a Golden Retriever. I’ve never been one to fit in with my peers. I don’t get all excited to go to writer groups and workshops. I don’t get inspired working on my story in a clustered coffee shop. I am not a social creature. I loathe the social interaction of Twitter, Facebook and Skype. It steals my creative energies and takes way too much time away from my first love – my story writing.
I guess I tend to look at things outside the box. I love the solitude, the aloneness writing provides me. I love to squirrel myself away for days, weeks, doing nothing but typing, research, plotting, editing and occasionally taking time to sleep and eat. It exorcises my personal demons, it cleanses my soul.
I love the quiet bliss of a story unfolding under my fingers with no distractions other than the occasional furry ones under my feet. I believe solitude is a state of mind rather than an environmental state, and one that writers should realize and embrace. Not many do. And while I hold those quiet qualities with the zeal of a born-again experience, I have to accept the inevitable: loneliness will be a part of my life. And I’m okay with that.
For the most part, I have made peace with the fact I will have those pangs of author loneliness. My angst breathes strong on the nights where my labor has ended and I’ve birthed some beautifully written piece. Why? Simply because I would rather live in the world I created, where the setting, the characters and the plot are more appealing to me than my real world.
Sometimes I forget what it means to ‘have a life,’ not because I don’t get out and interact with society (I am very active when I choose to be), but mostly because my characters are not a part of it. You see, the voices in my head are so real, so genuine; it’s hard to remember they aren’t flesh and blood people. And when I feel nobody else can understand where I’m coming from, that’s when I get lonely.
Another time I feel lonely is when I think about the bigger picture. Since I share my thoughts, feelings, experiences and views to the world through story, I often ask myself: ‘What is the purpose of this story? What do I want to achieve by writing it?’ And, more selfishly, “Are my stories gonna touch anyone? Will it be worth all the blood, sweat and tears I have poured in?”
Take for example, Father McKenzie in the Beatles song ‘Eleanor Rigby.’ Many writers believe that their creative efforts will be in vain. No one will read it. Could this be what blossoms the loneliness belief – the fear of obscurity which then leads to a fear of mortality? I mean, when you really think about it, only a handful of writers live on in the infinity of their works. The rest of us only pray our stories don’t turn to dust in the wind at the same time our mortal bodies get pumped full of cold preservatives.
Whether my loneliness is brought on by self-imposed isolation, an overwhelming feeling of being insignificant in this world, or if it is magnified by a particular piece that touched my own heart, the fact of the matter is: I cherish my moments of loneliness, for the power of its yearning is what drives me to soar beyond the threshold of emotional stagnation and to challenge myself by achieving greater heights in my writing.