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:~: Wednesday, April 25, 2007 :~:

The Lonely Writing Life


Writing, at its best, is a lonely life. ~Ernest Hemmingway

Or not. Many writers live in metropolitan areas allowing them plenty of access to fellow writers, writing associations, writing-oriented activities and classes.

But I'm not one of them, so Hemmingway's sentiments resonate with me.

Thankfully, I've got Internet. I've got my email/IM crit partners and my loops and my online courses. I've also got supportive family, interested friends and a flexible schedule which allows me time to devote to my writing.

For a brief moment in time, I had a writing group of women who focused on fiction. Shortly after I joined, the group disbanded (you think that was a sign?) and I was, once again, left adrift.

I'm a pretty introverted person. I generally like my own company, prefer a couple good friends to a crowd, rather stay in than go out, choose email over talking on the phone. But lately, the loneliness that comes from being my own number one fan, critic, reviewer, editor, brainstormer and supporter, has crept in. I miss the touchy-feelyness of personal contact with other writers, writers who have walked the same path and seek the same expression -- specifically other romance writers.

So, I did it. I got my list from RWA and I sent out my letters with a questionnaire to see what level of interest I could garner from 2 hrs in three directions--north, south and east.

I was surprised when I got several immediate positive responses from those who live so far away. Evidently, I'm not the only one who feels lonely now and then. The women who replied stated similar feelings of isolation and showed a contagious enthusiasm for the opportunity to interact with other romance writers.

I'm encouraged. The anticipation of cultivating a supportive writers group has my mind spinning in new ways. The thought of writing and writing related discussions and classes and seminars once again appear as opportunities instead of their recent relegation to the category of chores.

And in spite of the challenges, I agree with Gustave Flaubert who said, "Writing is a lonely life, but the only life worth living."

Do you get writer's loneliness? If no, why not? If yes, what do you do about it? Have you found that the loneliness can affect your writing--motivation, production, love of the craft?

Labels:

7Comments:

Blogger B.E. Sanderson said...

I am so there with you. I live in the middle of nowhere and the closest big city is 2.5 hours away. I didn't have anyone to talk to about writing for the first year of my writing life. Then I started networking online. I've since found several wonderful people to talk to, and one supremely awesome CP. I don't need to see people to connect with them, but at some people - loner that I am - I still need other connect with people who understand what this whole writing thing is about. Thanks for the post. It really hit the spot. =o)

6:43 AM  
Blogger B.E. Sanderson said...

Oops. Stupid finger day. "...at some people..." should be "at some point". Sorry about that.

6:45 AM  
Blogger Joan Swan said...

B.E.

That's the thing -- people who understand what this whole writing thing is about

I have lots of people around me all the time -- just no one who REALLY understands the writing mind, world or heart. And that's not something you can explain.

Nice to know I'm not the only one who feels this way. :-)

11:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joan,

You were describing me down to every last detail in this blog. And yes, I experience this lonliness you spoke of as well.

I'd love to find a group of romance writers close at hand so I could have a face to face group. There is an energy you get in actual face to face get-to-gethers that you just don't get from email and online chats.

The problem I've found when I've tried to reach out and connect with people, is that the writers in my area just aren't as far along in their craft as I am. And my time is so restricted these days I just don't have the time at the moment to mentor anyone. So the few contacts I've made have turned into a mental and emotional drain.

Theresa

9:32 PM  
Blogger Joan Swan said...

Theresa said:

The problem I've found when I've tried to reach out and connect with people, is that the writers in my area just aren't as far along in their craft as I am. And my time is so restricted these days I just don't have the time at the moment to mentor anyone. So the few contacts I've made have turned into a mental and emotional drain.

That is exactly why I don't have very many crit partners. I love giving back where I can, but mentoring a new writer(s) doesn't fit into my limited time budget now.

Hopefully, connecting with a group like this, I can enjoy the benefits of having other writers close to discuss and learn without the added responsibility of critting.

7:23 AM  
Blogger Edie said...

Joan, I belong to WisRWA, and have met great people there, but my closest 'writing friends' are still on the Internet. One of them, Liz Kreger, belongs to WisRWA, but we live about 45 minutes apart, she works full time and has a 7 year old. Without the Internet, we'd probably talk once a month at the chapter meetings.

It took me a year or two to get together with my fabulous CPs--and though blogs, I'm still meeting terrific people that I click with.

7:26 PM  
Blogger Elisabeth Naughton said...

YAY, J!!!!!!!!

I'm so excited for you. I know how long you've been craving physical interaction with other writers.

Yes, I love my online crit partners and writer friends and couldn't function without them (and am going through withdrawl right now with my computer in the shop and access to email only in the evening), but my local RWA chapter is my monthly inspiration. It's my time to get together with other women who GET ME in every way shape or form. We're all different ages, we come from varied backgrounds, and if we met each other on the street we may very well never have given the other another look. But the bonds I've formed with so many of those women because of RWA and my writing are bonds that won't ever be broken. We understand each other in a way others don't. And I'm inspired every time I'm in the room with them.

I recently discovered my cousin is writing her first book. (I blogged about my excitement at learning this news at my personal blog if you're interested). Like having a local writing group, having another WRITER in the family is something that warms my heart. Now I'm not the only strange one in the family. ;)

9:06 PM  

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