In The Right to Write, Julia Cameron talks about loneliness, and the common perception that writing is an inherently lonely occupation. And yet, she says, this is not her own experience, and she feels like something of a heretic: “So much has been written about the loneliness of the writer’s lot that it feels like heresy to report the truth as I know it: in my experience, not writing is a lonely business. The minute I let myself write, everything falls into balance.”
She could be describing my own experience as well.
It doesn’t matter what I write. It could a short story, a poem, a speech, a blog post, a letter, work on a novel, or a news story, it really doesn’t matter. I never write alone. And it’s been that way as long as I can remember.
There may not be another person in the room, but that doesn’t mean I’m alone. And that’s because when I’m writing, I’m inside a character’s head or the middle of a scene; between the lines of a poem pulling out what will be coming; thinking about the people who may be reading a blog post or article; or, if I’m writing a speech for someone, that person is figuratively sitting on my shoulder so I can hear the voice, how it sounds, what it says well and what it mispronounces, and what will communicate with listeners.
I have interior conversations with all of these people and scenes. I play with words and silently yell at them when they don’t work or don’t string together like they should. I puzzle of where a new character suddenly erupted from. I watch a scene in a story unfold, and I don’t think of myself as the director but more as one of the actors in the scene.
I didn’t say it wasn’t weird; all I said was that I don’t feel lonely.
Frustrated, out of sorts, short-tempered when I can’t write? Absolutely. And also lonely.
But lonely when I write? Never. For a writer, it's not writing that's one of the heights of loneliness.
(And yes, my apologies to Carson McCullers for adapting the title of her novel for this blog post.)
Over at the High Calling Blogs, Laura Boggess is leading a discussion of Cameron’s The Right to Write. Take a look and see what others are saying, commenting and posting. Last week’s discussion was about going deeper in your writing. This week’s discussion is about loneliness, writing as witness and where a writer writes.
Love.Letters by Nancy at Poems and Prayers.
Out of Sorts by Nancy Kourmoulis.
Lyla Lindquist's A Little Help from Mr. Fusion.
Day 21: Right Day, Right Time by Melo.
Erin Straza's Let's Be Brave.
Morning Pages by Cassandra Frear.
Witness by Laura Boggess.