The lonely writer?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Macabre Harbour, Oct 26, 2014.

  1. Macabre Harbour

    Macabre Harbour I only sing when I'm winning...

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    Writers, by and large, partake of a solitary profession, sitting alone at a keyboard (or pad and paper for those of a certain vintage) hoping to unearth something of interest from the slagheap of the imagination. Unless collaborating with another on a particular project there's generally no-one else to turn to for advice or feedback during the actual act of writing (others can provide feedback after the event, to be sure, but by then anything useful that's proffered will involve much retyping and much muttering about how the world doesn't understand a true genius).

    Like dying, the act of creation is a singular experience - no matter how one tries to explain the process to others it can never truly be shared or understood. Even the most sympathetic critique fails to fully credit the mental blood and tears which have been shed in pursuit of the muse.

    This, for me, is what makes the whole process magical. I may be alone in my view (it wouldn't be the first time I've marched to the sound of a different drummer only to be led through a dark alley), but I believe that some things shouldn't be shared with others. They're too personal. Too important, in fact, to require either approval or derision (note that I am talking about the act of writing, not the physical result thereof).

    It can be a distancing experience just tapping away on a keyboard, occasionally cursing the gods, occasionally paying homage to them for sending a muse with which to set the page alight with the fires of creation, but this is no bad thing in and of itself – we all need time to allow the mind the stretch its muscles, take a wander into improbable neighbourhoods, stare at vistas unattainable in the real world.

    We live in a busy world: inconsequential noise assails us from all sides, be it generated by friends, family, random people or the media. The act of sitting by oneself and creating something from nothing provides a shield against all this static, deflecting the mundane back to those who dwell in it.

    Despite being something of a fultilitarian I recognise that humans are more than mere nutrients for the soil. We dream. We aspire. We imagine. Even surrounded by the buzz of irrelevance which makes up so much of modern life the thoughts which flicker through our brains are a triumphant act of defiance aimed at a world that's done its best to kill us off.

    I contend that while writing can be a solitary endeavour, it's never a lonely one. Speaking only for myself, even when I'm tapping away (not a euphemism) I'm never alone. I've got a host of characters rubbing shoulders with me, offering opinions, making jokes, starting fights, and guiding me to horizons I hadn't previously considered attainable.

    Of course they're not real, but what use has a fantasy writer for reality? As someone who's burnt quite a few fingers at the writer's forge I've never felt isolated. Rather, I've revelled in the opportunity to wander mindscapes without any outside interference.

    One's person's tale, however, does not an opus make.

    So what does everyone else think? Am I wrong and missing an obvious middle ground on which everyone can erect a tent, or am I not nearly as antisocial as some people think? Opinions, like big bars of Toblerone, are welcome.
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2014
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  2. CheshireGrin

    CheshireGrin Active Member

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    I couldn't agree more! :) My best writing days are always the ones I spend isolated from others. I might spend hours by myself when writing, but (like you) I'm never lonely when I do so. I think a lot of people assume solitude automatically equals loneliness, but this just isn't the case for some of us. The excitement that comes along with creating things/story telling is far too great for me to ever really feel down when I'm working on something I'm truly passionate about.
     
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  3. Macabre Harbour

    Macabre Harbour I only sing when I'm winning...

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    I think you've pretty much captured my own feelings on the subject but in a thankfully less verbose manner (once I start typing I have difficulty recognising when to stop - another reason why I'll never top the bestseller lists...having said that, it doesn't seem to have done Stephen King any harm).

    You're perfectly right, though: a lot of people equate removing oneself from society for a time to either feeling alone, manic introversion, or some kind of misanthropic wish-fulfilment. As you say, the nature of literary creation is such that it requires (demands?) a certain distance from others: some of the best fiction ever produced has been created by those who stood outside looking in or wandered away from the crowd to plough their own furrow, follow their own tune: even though we deal with the fantastic, there's really no reason why writers of imaginative fiction shouldn't do the same.
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2014
  4. Firiath

    Firiath Halfling barbarian

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    Although I don't write as often as I'd like I absolutely understand what you mean. And I can only dream of ever being able to express myself as precisely and beautifully as you did in that post. :)
     
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  5. Macabre Harbour

    Macabre Harbour I only sing when I'm winning...

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    Aw shucks, now I'm blushing. Thank you very much, Firiath, for the kind words.