When I was in high school, I told my mother that I hated writing. She responded: “Why do you do it?” I found no answer that wasn’t long and complicated and something she wouldn’t understand. When I said that I hated writing, I didn’t really mean it. I only meant that it was hard.
Writing is a difficult endeavor. It’s exhausting, frustrating and, hardest of all for me: lonely. The writer’s life is in large part spent in solitude.
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The writer is a solitary creature who stays holed up in rooms staring at screens or paper until they want to throw something.
But, the writer doesn’t hate writing. In fact, there are fleeting moments when everything comes together. For that one moment among all the muck-raking hours, the writer loves writing.
And it’s for that reason that we continue.
But among all the fractured moments of brilliance, there is simply silence. You might as well forget you ever knew anybody. You might as well forget all intimacy except that which you forge with your characters. Forget your own memories or the loneliness might haunt you for hours while you stay locked away. You have half-formed babies waiting for you on the page. You have a cloud of possibilities and ideas—ripe fruit—waiting for you to pluck them and juice them onto your page.
In this solitude, it is easy for the writer to lose herself in the melancholy of being alone. Perhaps this is why writers tend to be introverts. Perhaps the hours spent alone can be some sort of refuge from a world that just won’t stop.
In the writer’s room, you can make the world you’re creating stop. You control the speed of everything and all the interactions. In the midst of this solitude, you create life. You cultivate spirit. You breathe soul into characters and worlds.
In that sense, the writer is never truly alone. Even the characters become friends. Once the writer breathes life into something, it becomes a companion.
A writer’s room is full of these companions, full of these worlds that have been built into castles and kingdoms. The reason that Virginia Woolf said that a writer needs a room of her own is because she needs a home for all her living subjects.
The writer may live in solitude, but she is only lonely if she forgets to tune into this subatomic world she has made out of her own skin and blood.