An essay about depression, disappearance, and returning.Read More
To write you have to like being alone. Ideas have to flow in and out like air through cracks in the cabin wall. Physical space isn't important; the flow can happen in a tiny room. What counts is internal space. The voices you hear belong to your characters. I clear my life, days and weeks and months at a time, and I lie about it. It embarrasses me to need so much solitude. So I write this today with a sense of coming clean. I'm a terrible one for canceling. I make plans because I love the people I make them with. But sometimes even a single appointment can worry me, or shift my focus to that day, that moment on the calendar, and I wind up saying I'm sorry, I won't be able to. This might be extreme. Some writers might need groups or gatherings or just plain old daily contact more than I do. I need solitude. When I wake up in the morning I get to my writing without speaking a word. Talking before work shifts my focus away. It's not that what I'm writing is important, or beautiful, or noteworthy--it's just what I do. The words are important to me, maybe no one else. I tell stories because if I didn't I would stop breathing.
One can never be alone enough to write -- Susan Sontag
Writing, at its best, is a lonely life. Organizations for writers palliate the writer’s loneliness but I doubt if they improve his writing. He grows in public stature as he sheds his loneliness and often his work deteriorates. For he does his work alone and if he is a good enough writer he must face eternity, or the lack of it, each day -- Ernest Hemingway, 1954 Nobel Prize acceptance speech
The computer makes writing both easier and harder. It makes revision easier but it's a portal to the Internet which is a distraction. The internet has pluses and minuses. When I first discovered it I was distracted by it all the time. Email, constant contact--both wonderful and destructive, like the best addictions. Facebook provides the sense of a social life; Pinterest seems to me to be intuitive and wordless communication, a way to say who you are, or at least who you are at the moment of pinning a picture or poem; Twitter is immediate like speed or sugar; a comic artist introduced me to Tumblr, and I think I like the feeling of it. But let's face it, the Internet is hell on writing. My father, who sold and repaired Olympia typewriters, gave me an Olympia SM 9 when I was in school. I'm glad they still make ribbons for it. I've stocked up in case they stop. I think the sound of the keys comforts me; I know the cats like it. They sit close, as if the typewriter is a hearth. Most of the time I still write on my computer and sometimes on those nights I dream I am typing. Either way the stories get told. Life is writing and writing is life.