Thursday, September 3, 2009

Lonely? Narcissist? Writer?

I've not been putting much energy into writing--I mean really writing, not just posting--on this blog for a while.
I realized the other day that it's not just that I've been thinking about other things, like film, instead, it's that blogging feels kind of lonely to me lately. I'm afraid I let my e-mail connections wither as I put most of my energies into writing, and that means most of my deepest conversations are one-way, with myself.

Writing is like that, I think. I have a friend who is on Year Four of writing his novel. No incoming letter from a future reader, however wonderful and intense, could match his level of output.
Do writers just have to be narcissists, to some extent? It is solitary work, inward looking, using one's own life and thoughts for material: perhaps it's inevitable.


momo said...

Hmmm, why would persisting in a long-range writing project be narcissistic? Just curious why it strikes you that way. Lonely, sure. Audience is important, but is writing always in service of others?

deanna said...

There's much in those thoughts to ponder. Trying to find balance has been the story of my writing life, ever since grade school, where my first novels helped me survive. I liked my friends but sometimes just preferred reading and's still the same story, I guess.

Fresca said...

Re: Narcissism
Good question, Momo.
It's not that the impulse and commitment to write long term is narcissistic in itself, it's that the work is necessarily so solitary, so inward, so self-referential--(even if you're writing for and about other people)-- that a writer (me!) can get overly enamored of or even trapped by the reflection in that still dark pool. You remember Narcissus ... For me, I sense danger there, in the writer's pool.
But also riches and illumination.
When does solitude turn into isolation? Where is the line between enriching self-reflection and withering self-reference?

iI the past year and a half of writing more seriously, I have sunk deeper into myself. This is wonderful! But it also concerns me a bit...

I am a big fan of checks and balances. Because I live and work alone, I don't have the same built-in checks and balances people who have the annoyances/pleasures of partners, children and colleagues.

Of course, this is also wonderful!

There's not an external measure of these things--each writer has to strike that balance herself.

Yes, Deanna, as you say-- a lifelong balancing act.
And sometimes the right balance may be way off the deep end...

I don't know. I think I may need something as mundane as a vacation!

momo said...

I see what you're saying now. My impression of you, on the other hand, and it's often from this blog, is of someone who has nurturing sustaining relationshops with interesting people AND "a room of one's own".
A really interesting book written by someone I knew back in Berkeley is by Anneli Rufus, something like "The Loner's Manifesto" I'll look up the exact title. It really resonated with me because I need and crave a lot of alone time even though I work in a job that requires constant contact with lots of people. Neglecting that balance has had a negative effect on my writing...

Fresca said...

"The Loner's Manifesto"--what a great title!
I sometimes feel like a freak for being happy alone! I mean, it's just not represented as good, but rather as warped, in our stories.

Thanks for reflecting me back to myself here--that's something that's missing, of course, if you spend too much time alone.

I do feel pretty well balanced, but lately I haven't had the oomph to compose something really thoughtful on the blog and have been wondering why, and I realized that the labor required didn't offset the cost of loneliness.

On the other hand, too much time around other people though, yeah, that can blot out the self-reflection needed to write (anything other than committee reports and the like).

Jennifer said...

I own "A Loner's Manifesto!" It's a bit cantankerous in places, but it's a helpful antidote to me when I'm feeling a lot of pressure to be sociable and gregarious. Sometimes I need to be reminded that looking inward isn't a bad thing...