A lonely job…

lonely“An artist is always alone – if he is an artist.”Henry Miller

Writing is a lonely job, no doubt about it. And no matter how successful you might become, you’re still alone. It’s the inexorable truth of the writer’s condition: you sit at your desk, in an empty room or in the most crowded coffee shop, yet you’re alone. You just do your thing.

Of course, this poses a rather interesting question: if you spend that much time alone, how do you find stuff to write about?

I find that a lot of aspiring writers tend to obsesses about the what part of their craft, sometimes long before they even figure out the how part. I know I was like that. I wanted to find that brilliant, one of a kind idea… and I spent an awful lot of time searching for it, rummaging through my mind for something that kept running away from me.

It was there, but it wasn’t.

And I’m pretty sure when I say that no idea has ever come to me when I was purposefully searching for it. No, ideas came to me when I least expected them to, in the bus, or when talking to a friend on the phone.

The best of ideas came to me when I was as far away from a keyboard, a pen, and a paper as possible. The best ideas came to me in the middle of the night, in the form of a bizarre dream that lingered long after I’d open my eyes.

In my humble opinion, writing is not about finding something worth writing about, something no one else has ever thought of writing down, something innovative and brilliant and all that stuff. No, I believe it’s far more important to find something you care about so much, and yet you don’t entirely understand, that you have to write about it, in the hope of finding out more.

Big or small, interesting or not, the places and events and people that define who we are will always make good literature. At least.

Because, sadly, it’s not enough to be passionate about writing. We all are, otherwise we wouldn’t be spending so many hours of our lives doing it. But we need to live, to discover, to experiment.

And maybe it’s not about searching for something we care about so much that we have to write it down, but about that something finding us.

This is not a mad quest for original ideas, but just a really long road to self-discovery.

Who am I? is the most important question we can ask ourselves, and no matter the answer we might give ourselves at one point or another, we’ll never stop asking it.

And writing is just that. A way for us to discover who we are, and what our purpose is, and what are we going to do with the time we have.

Yes, writing is a lonely job, maybe the loneliest there is. It’s not spectator art, you can’t write with a crowd behind you, with people cheering and clapping like crazy.

And there’s one more thing about writing: that we can never be sure that our message, what we’re really trying to say, is ever going to reach the right people at the right time. Sometimes, some of our messages won’t reach anyone. But we never lose hope that, if we’re lucky enough, our words might reach someone exactly when they need to read them the most.

Ultimately, one of art’s many purposes is to make us feel less lonely because, in the end, we’re all utterly and inconsolably alone.

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26 comments on “A lonely job…

  1. I totally agree! It consumes you! All that surrounds you is oblivious.

  2. Jack says:

    Excellent post! And, I clearly identify with the writer’s/artist’s loneliness. Often, when I mention to people that I’m a writer, I get a shrug or a yawn, or some other “not interested” body language. Fellowship with other likeminded artists is a definite necessity in this business!

  3. paulaacton says:

    I guess for some people writing is a lonely job, but for most of us necessity still forces us out of the door to interact with others at day jobs as we struggle to pay bills while making time to write and the actual solitude we get when we finally get time to sit and write is a change from the bustle of family life. For me I find the hardest thing is persuading others that when I am sat at my desk I am unavailable for the trivia of every day life but until I can afford to quit the day job it is a cross I bear, even if it means that I only sit down to write for an hour as everyone else heads to bed I write everyday but the brain is constantly plotting.

  4. Sue Permann says:

    Why do I feel like crying as I read this? It’s full of compassion. I can feel it within my heart… I couldn’t agree more to everything you said. I can totally relate and I feel you. :”> (I think I need a hug)

  5. Ed. E. says:

    sometimes, when I feel worn out at the end of a painfully long day, I write out whatever is floating in my mind. it doesn’t always end up solving whatever problem I’m facing, but it makes it a bit more.. bearable, because suddenly I have this whole new understanding of what I’m going through.

  6. You know what? Maybe your words reached me at the right time, when I needed it the most. I want to thank you for that. All your posts are amazing. This is the time, for a week, I was feeling utterly hopeless & helpless as to why we always feel like we don’t belong or why no one understands our loneliness & our purpose and nothing could make me better. Nothing other than your post now, that is. I don’t have enough words to tell you how thankful I’m to know I’m not alone in this, even though we all are, physically.

  7. Fantastic!! Loved this. you have summed up the writers life so beautifully and i could agree more with your sentiments and your conclusions. As lonely a life it can be I always get the sense of fellow writers past and present willing us all on, championing our cause and for that the loneliness seems a little price to pay.

    I believe in you!!! You are not alone, God bless your beautiful and faithful heart today and everyday :)

  8. Christian I could have written this myself! So very true, especially the bit about ideas coming to one in dreams. But the more I think about it; yes, it’s at times lonely when you’re sitting with your thoughts and a keyboard or pen and paper, but when I write, I don’t really feel that alone. I know my characters almost as if they were real people, and I can see and hear them in my head. Might make me slightly insane but all the best writers are, right?! Great post.

  9. Jack says:

    I had a similar problem, Paula, especially when I first started writing seriously way back during the typewriter days. No one was willing to “work with me” when I asked them not to bother me during my writing time. Few people understood, and even fewer respected “my time.”

    • paulaacton says:

      Only 12 years to go and my son will have left home lol summer holidays are the worst exhausted from work and trying to occupy a hyper active child then persuading the other half that as much as I would love to chill with him and a glass or two of wine I need to spend some time at the computer, friends are more understanding, partners I think sometimes view the computer as another person in the relationship.

  10. duduk bungkuk says:

    so true! this a wonderful inspiration to finish my book

  11. This post just summed up so much for me. For years I would try to “think” of something worth writing about, until I realized that writing is about finding yourself, as you said. This brings so much clarity to the art, to be able to experience many different aspects of life and write about them.

  12. I just LOVE this post! Writing can be lonely. It can be maddening. But most of all, it’s a journey of self-discovery. BRAVO! xoxo :)

  13. I just read this and all I can say is- I love this article so much, it captures the essence of writing to me.

  14. A.R. Román says:

    Good post. We are lonely beings, us writers. We love and, we can say, live our loneliness for in it we create. It is our creating space and we adore it.

    And my best ideas come when I am driving.

  15. Thank you, Cristian, for giving voice to what so many of us feel, but often don’t understand. Your posts have given me the courage to write and not worry about what will happen to my writings. Thank you for this fabulous post, and for this entire blog ;)

  16. moriaus says:

    Very well expressed… though I don’t call myself a writer because I think it needs far more command and dedication, yet I relate to all that you said in my own little way, in whatever less I write. I would love to re-blog this :)

  17. Cristian, what a great post! It is so, so lonely but at the end of the day I have come to accept that that is part of the process, at least my process since I really do need “the” quiet. And I really at the end of the day agree with you that no matter what you’re writing that it is all part of the process of self-discovery. Great post!

  18. this is my favorite part – “No, I believe it’s far more important to find something you care about so much, and yet you don’t entirely understand, that you have to write about it, in the hope of finding out more.” That is why I write.

  19. athling2001 says:

    Just love your insights, both here and in your other posts.

  20. Simon Banks says:

    It’s also about somehow recording enough of the idea quickly so you don’t forget it.

  21. I got a lot out of your post. The best of the ideas do come when I am away from my computer..sometimes with people and these dont come to me when I need them the most,, :)

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