Earlier this year I read Annie Dillard‘s book The Writing Life. I have to say I both liked it and didn’t like it as it described the grand thrill and depressive solitude of those who cannot help but write. I am not sure how often I will revisit it because it was confusing at times as the writing life often is but, it talked a lot about being alone.
The Writing life is an honest book. It is also a depressing book. It is true that no one can produce a work for a writer and it can indeed be a lonely road. However, as I dig into this life more and more I begin to understand that writing cannot simply be done while sitting in a cabin in the woods on some lonely Isle. The writer retells life and in order to say something about living to those who live the writer must live. Though, I understand it is difficult for the writer to come out of their shell even when surrounded by people.
A few years ago one of my friends introduced me to The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. I would define it as an artists guide to help unfold the creative process. The workbook contains various exercises that refill your creative well. For those who have not read it and practices the exercises It may sound silly, like some secondhand self help book but, they work, and they work really really well. I would recommend it to any one who has a desire to paint, sculpt, write, or do something otherwise creative.
However, this book also is about being alone. What I find troubling is that we want to remain relevant as writers. We want to speak out and say something to the wide world, but we do it from the desks, studies, and coffee shops with ear buds in.
So, how do we do this writers? How does the writer maintain a balance of life and solitude so they don’t slip to the brink of loneliness or neglect their craft?