Word count: 240 Reading time: 1 min.
“Despite all [Edith Wharton’s] privileges, despite her strenuous socializing, she remained an isolate and a misfit, which is to say, a born writer.” wrote Jonathan Franzen in his article A Rooting Interest in a recent New Yorker. By that definition, I’m a born writer too.
You know all those writers that you see tapping on laptops or scribbling in notebooks in the local coffee shop? I’m not one of them. I need isolation – deep, dark solitude – to work well. Last November I learned of organized write-in events by NaNoWriMo participants and asked the person convening meetings at Waves Coffee House what was involved. Her answer: a bunch of people fire up their laptops, consume coffee, write, and engage in intermittent word wars.
Write in public? I thought. Won’t that silence the angels and demons who whisper when it’s just them and me in the room?
Franz Kafka said, “Writing is utter solitude, the descent into the cold abyss of oneself.” When I make this descent, it’s not a lonely place to go. It’s an essential tonic to the busy-ness and noise of life. Writing is a time to sit alone with my visions and see if the words I've scratched into my notebook will burst into life, like sea-monkeys, when transcribed to my novel.
Can you work with distractions, greeting family, friends, and passers-by? Or do you need isolation for your writing process?
Photo by: Ncousla