It’s Not Me, It’s Me

I would like to take issue with myself. There may be something schizophrenic in that, but I feel I must. It was something I said in my last post about “writerly isolation.” There is a clear implication in that – and one that was in my mind, no doubt, as I wrote it – that there is something lonely about the process of writing. I frequently read interviews with writers who talk about the loneliness of the writing process. It’s almost become an accepted truth that the act of creative writing is an inherently lonely occupation that writers must endure in order to do what they do; that it comes, as they say, with the territory.

However, after pondering awhile on this piece of supposed conventional wisdom, I have come to the conclusion that I wholeheartedly disagree. When I’m working on a play, I am engrossed in a story that is unfolding before my eyes. More importantly, I am in the company of characters who are as much taking me on a journey as I am them. Hours fly by with me hardly noticing them. I emerge for a while and realize it’s late, I haven’t eaten, and there’s nothing but crap left on the telly (though that last part isn’t necessarily time specific). Was I lonely? Absolutely not. I was boating up the Amazon under constant threat from marauding tribes of headshrinkers. Or I was crouched in a trench on the Somme with bullets whistling overhead as I wrote a letter home. (Okay, I haven’t written a play with either of those scenarios, but you get my point).

Now, had I spent those hours alone in front of the telly watching the aforementioned crap, there’s every possibility that loneliness may have become a significant component of my evening. But, when trying to figure out how I can prevent my character’s head being shrunk to the size of a tennis ball, solitude was nowhere in sight.


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