Writing Stuff

A Lonely Profession

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

Writing is a lonely profession.

And yet, I like it that way. I’ve never been a people person, per se, and given the choice of attending a party or holing up in a corner with a pad and pencil, I’ll choose the isolation every time. This doesn’t mean I don’t like people, far from it, I just prefer to remain on the outskirts of humanity and simply … watch.

And write about my observations.

I like my space. I like being by myself, I like having room to stretch out and do yoga exercises with my imagination. I like submersing myself in fantasy worlds and building entire scenes out of an overheard conversation or absent-minded gestures and unconscious expressions. I require absolute silence when I write, otherwise I’m too easily distracted and my story fades like a television station with poor reception.

I like my own company and I never have any problems being by myself or finding something to do to entertain myself and I purposefully factor myself out of human equations – give me a book instead.

And yet, there are times I get incredibly lonely. Those are the times I pin my husband to the wall as soon as he gets home from work and talk his ear off, generally about nothing; it’s just a relief to hear my voice as opposed to hearing my thoughts. I know he must feel like a bug caught in a jar during these times, he can see me and he can hear syllables come out of my mouth, but I’m usually talking so fast that the words are garbled and vague. I can tell he’s humoring me. He’s a creative person as well (he plays music) so he can relate to my enthusiasm for new ideas and the adrenaline rush one gets when ideas flow, but he doesn’t fully understand that there are times I simply need to … talk shop.

That’s why I love participating in online groups like this blog. It gives me a chance to communicate with like-minded people, like myself, on my terms. I can sign on and comment on my schedule. I answer to no one.

But after comparing notes, cracking jokes, bouncing ideas, and offering suggestions, after all of this is said and done, writers must once more step back into their isolation and pick up where they left off – they must accept the fact that writing is a lonely profession.

How do you alleviate your loneliness?

This article was originally published on Write Anything, March 31, 2006.