I compiled a Twitter list called Help for Poets and Writers. The tweets coming from this list run the gamut from advice on the finer points of writing to how to market your book to pithy quotes from famous writers. These tweets are thought provoking and a source of inspiration to me.
A while back, there was one that particularly struck me. The quote, “Writers are too self-centered to be lonely,” was attributed to Richard Condon (author of the political thriller, The Manchurian Candidate). I’m not too sure I agree with that statement.
To be sure, writers are self centered, which is not to say that we’re bad people or that we don’t care about others on a personal level. But when we write, we are invested in our point of view, aren’t we? We have to be in order to say, “Here it is. This is what I think. Read it and weep.”
Furthermore, everything we write, fiction or nonfiction, is filtered through our knowledge, senses, and emotions (or that of our characters and personas) and presented as truth: The truth, according to us, according to our world of which we are the center.
Maybe Condon meant that writers don’t mind being alone. We do need a certain amount of solitude so that we can hear our thoughts. Sometimes, even when I’m not writing, I just want to be alone, period. When I’m in this mood, interacting with people seems like a chore and I just feel tired. I simply withdraw.
But at times, does a feeling of loneliness creep in that comes from occupying a space that no one inhabits but you, and in the center of that space is a point–a black hole, if you will–that is difficult for even you to touch, let alone let anyone near? For me, the answer is yes. Is this space peculiar to writers or does everybody have this? I wonder if writers are more sensitive to it and put up more defenses to try to protect it, and does being sensitive make us feel more vulnerable, less likely to trust? Does being self centered protect you from loneliness or make you more prone to it?
From time to time, loneliness is a necessary occupational hazard for a writer because in that space uniqueness and truth reside. So while I don’t wallow in it, at the very least I acknowledge it, and I’m trying to understand it and draw from it.
© Sweepy Jean and Sweepy Jean Explores the (Webby) World, 2010.