by Sidney S. Stark
“It’s such a lonely life in some ways…being a writer…and you do this thing in a room by yourself for a long time…and you might be the only person who cares that you do it.”
This reflective, almost wistful statement was offered by Melissa Bank, an author who teaches a fiction workshop at the Southampton Writers’ Conference. Her comment on writing was more propositional than profound I think, in that most authors and writers talk openly about the Loneliness Factor in writing. They also describe it as a ‘solitary’ or even ‘sedentary’ craft, but to me neither one of those adjectives speaks to the Loneliness Factor. They might make writing impossible for someone who’s hyperactive or overly social, but they don’t describe what it is to be really lonely.
So what is the Loneliness Factor then and why should it be considered at all if it’s so widely accepted as a reality of the creative artist’s life? Because I don’t think it’s been considered properly and it gives writing a bad name. True loneliness by any other name would feel as painful but I don’t think that’s what a writer experiences in that room by him or herself. And I also don’t think it matters if anyone else cares that one writes there. It only matters that the writer cares.