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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27 thoughts on “A lonely job…

  1. “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.”
    You have a way of writing that very much related with me personally. Thank you for that.

  2. Writing can be extremely enjoyable, but if no one wants to read it then it does lead to depression. I used to try and pass my work on to friends and family, not the non readers, but the ones who actually enjoy reading and they wouldn’t give me the time of day. Honestly I would prefer to be told my work sucks than to hear nothing at all.

  3. Cristian, I have been wrestling with this statement for a while. But you hit the nail on the head. I keep wondering is this the way I want to spend my life: Alone. I struggle with the answer.

  4. “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.”
    That’s my hope every day, when I came here and spread my word. Sometimes it’s good and some not, but that’s the thing about Words: you’d never prepared enough for them. Peace man. 🙂

  5. I love how you end this, yes it’s about embracing the loneliness, being happy when the right audience drifts your way, but that being the main motivator for creating the piece. I spent a long time as a visual artist consumed by the audience, what they might think dictated what I made, which ultimately destroyed my ability to create. Now I’m happily my own audience, making the work because it needs to be made, for me.

  6. Can you imagine? If you were a rockstar writer, writing on stage in front of thousands of cheering fans? You’d never be able to write. Solitude is a writer’s fertilizer. If you are self conscious, you can’t write. And that’s true if you write as if thousands are watching you, reading you. Thank you for the great read.

  7. I’m okay with being alone, with no one understanding what I’m trying to say, with blank looks and the evil eye – I was a math teacher. Great training for being a writer.

  8. This is an inspiring post. But I don’t feel lonely when I write. I feel like the characters in my story are around me. Their conversations fill the space. Don’t you?

  9. Writing can be lonely, but you’re never really alone when writing. Your thoughts are ever present, your characters are acting out your emotions, vonveyi g yiur fonefy, your drsms…..the pathos of it all, plus your insecuirty is your biggest critic. It you think of your creativity ipas a room, that’s an awfully tight fit.
    I find the loneliness rears its ugly head at the end of writing an article, a blog post….whatever. You’ve just given birth to your literary baby and so few comment on it. It’s not like your looking for compliments but some constructive feedback would be nice. A reader might like it, but I bet the bulk of the likes are clicked simply to get more likes and follows to their blogs. Blogging has become too Facebook-like in that regard.
    Still, Is there anything better then to have someone willfully follow your blog? No. It’s the penultimate compliment. But a comp,imeny now and then would be welcomed too, and on that note, you’re one helluva writer! Every emotion is written as if it actually has a form. Love it.
    Greetings from Texas,
    Laurie Kendrick.

  10. I identify with this post so much. My art has come to me as a conduit for self-discovery. When I am alone, I can immerse myself in my obsession over a single thought and the way it manifests through song and memories and color. I am free and focused in my solitude to fully embody the emotions my inspiration evokes. Only then, in my singular personal experience, can I bring that self-exploration into tangible form. And even as the art unfolds on the canvas I learn exactly what it all means to me.

  11. I am now more motivated to write because of this. Just to write things that define us. Every story we have is worth sharing for. We’ll never know that our story can encourage others. Thank you for this. God bless you.

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