It’s cliché as hell to say the lonely writer. Ehhh, it’s expected, even. The words go together like fried and chicken. Peanut and butter. Happy and new year. Yet, it’s sticks better than super glue to flesh. And it’s true. This year it’s been worse. If you’re like me, your concentration may have been low, like the level of a concussed gnat. There was some shit happening, like the entire year, that grabbed our attention and slow-motion slapped it around then followed up with a hundred cat slaps just to be sure it had our full attention. But hey, we did manage to write some stuff. Shit got done…ish.
As writers, we run words through a blender, dump the whole heap onto pages and hope the story smoothie tastes good. Flows and reads well. Has a consistency of thoroughness. Just works.
The Solitary Beast
Let’s take a look at writing, from the writer’s perspective, shall we. That’s rhetorical. You don’t get’ta answer. You never really did. It’s just, well, I want you to feel like you have a say. You don’t. But you should feel like you do. But not really. Therefore, we shall take that look and you—you WILL like it.
Writing IS a lonely endeavor. It’s more than an empty white space getting filled with letters and words. More than a blank canvas awaiting the stroke of the artist’s brush setting the piece with abstract and color. More than a do-over with the strike of a back key. More than cranking the last screw on a master home.
That blank page is an enemy. A ruthless, mirthless, undying, unyielding fuckface of an enemy. As a crafter – artist of words – it’s the writer who must decide where to start. Where to place a word or phrase. Where to separate fact and fiction and where to smash to two together like word intercourse.
Sometimes, it’s careful research. Research we do on our own. We don’t have research assistants. It’s us. Our time. It’s too much research, usually, which grabs time and crushes it between a vise-grip, pulverized, never to be seen again. Sure, we may be able to text a friend who knows stuff about particular things and get an answer, but mostly, we grind away with the particulars of a Google search while diving deeper into some primordial rabbit hole than we ever intended. And yeah, that rabbit hole is of course filled with all types of non-essential shit from average toenail length to largest tea cup size to the best possible iron for clothes to the length of the omnipresent number two pencil to yes, German porn. It’s all just a vicious circle with really gnarly teeth. Not German porn, that’d be weird.
Writing IS being comfortable with yourself. I don’t mean in a modern, pseudo-psychological post-physical type way – although that might help. Perhaps you got a taste of the allure and took a big nibble if you worked from home during the Global Nightmare. Maybe you didn’t like it. Found it hard to adjust. Thought fuck this, gimmie an office and fluorescent lighting and bright way too small computer screen, and Nancy, the lady who jabbers about nothing and everything. Chews your ear off just to say more about your ear being torn up. Maybe you no longer were jealous of those who’ve worked from their comfy abode for a career. And maybe, just maybe, you weren’t comfortable being alone with yourself. It’s not easy. Sometimes we annoy us.
But hey, maybe IT’S not. It’s not so much that writers need private, alone, and quiet time to write and be creative. It could be we’re just misanthropes wary of eyeballs and wandering orbs. Back off, I said, could be. Probably though. At least solidly maybe. But at times we can write in coffee shops, outside at a café. Maybe in a park. Those are places with people. Doesn’t matter. Show me a writer and I’ll show you someone who’s happy with being alone. Happy with themselves. They might talk to themselves in the third person (that’s healthy, right?) but they get along with one another. They don’t mind them. I’m not saying they’re their best friend, that’d be strange.
Writing IS writing. Work is work. Something is better than nothing. Progress one way is progress another way. If your process is like mine, you dabble with notes. Hint: this very blog spot is called Scattered Notes. Harder hint: it’s called that for a reason. Creativity is like a sneeze and can happen at any time, any where, and ideas are everywhere.
Being alone as a writer means we get comfortable with not having immediate results. It means we appreciate a long process. Sometimes it more tedious and yeah, we hate that but it also means we can handle a turtles pace. Sure, at times words come like being shot from a fire hose but mostly, not. It’s slow. Drips like a months-long hidden leak. And it’s calculated. And we’re fine with that because it takes time and we’re comfy with us. We like it that way.
Year end note: 2020’s been a dicksore of a year so be kind to yourself and especially to others in 2021. Open every door because you never know what lies behind. Closed doors closes us to new possibilities. Good Writing and Happy New Year.