We Lonely Writers

30 Aug

“Writing, at its best, is a lonely life. Organizations for writers palliate the writer’s loneliness, but I doubt if they improve his writing. He grows in public stature as he sheds his loneliness and often his work deteriorates. For he does his work alone and if he is a good enough writer he must face eternity, or the lack of it, each day. 
” –Ernest Hemingway

The writing profession is reeking with this loneliness. All our lives we spend in discoursing with ourselves. . . . The loneliest people in the world we writers are. Except that, while we are conversing and laughing with ourselves, we manage to shed our loneliness . . . to scatter it as we go along. –H.L. Mencken

Imagine the writer: typing away the night while others are sleeping, toiling away in the darkness with the only light being that of  the cyclops eye of the  computer monitor, his hands pouncing and leaping upon the keys like a wounded caribou, his eyes bloodshot, his fragrance that of the sweat and tears of a lonesome man who hides away with his word. He goes out only long enough to collect his mail or gather provisions of groceries for another marathon session of creativity. His “real” world is the one of his mind. The other world is but Plato’s shadows on a wall moving in and out of focus only as he needs them.


I didn’t sign on for that. It is a romanticized (or is that the right word?) portrait of the life of a writer. Must we really be this solitary? Focused,yes! Determined,yes! Solitary? I hope not.

Tonight, I plan to meet some other writers. A meetup is planned for a “Happy Hour for OKC Scribes” and I have to admit this is my first attempt to network with other writers in person. I am a member of some active writing groups on Linked In and a few professional societies for writers but I have not yet made the leap to pressing the flesh with real-live writers.

I am hoping that the experience is one of growth for me and finding like-minded individuals with experiences and advice to share. I am looking for those impartial eyes to read a piece and tell me what they “really think” of my writing. I need that constructive criticism and coaching. I am also looking to make some friends but not necessarily in the same people. Friends are sometimes the very worst editors.

I promise to update you on how it turned out.

What do you think are writers the hermits that we are portrayed as? Does a life as a writer mean solitary confinement with our only hope for escape in the imaginary worlds we create for ourselves outside our cells? Are any of you in writing groups? What are the advantages and disadvantages of these groups? Please share your experiences in the comments.


7 Responses to “We Lonely Writers”

  1. literallylaurie August 30, 2012 at 4:09 PM #

    I was very active in a writer’s group before I moved. I loved it. Hope you have a great time.

    • seanomurphy August 30, 2012 at 5:15 PM #

      Thank you. Is it better to join an established group or try to form a small band of your own?

      • literallylaurie August 30, 2012 at 5:57 PM #

        I joined an established one…but I am thinking of starting one here. There are several people who write, and a perfect little coffee shop on our square…I love talking to other writers…it’s energizing

    • Susan August 31, 2012 at 6:43 PM #

      Your post is right on target for me. I do feel isolated sometimes. Last spring, I went to my first writers’ conference and loved it. I found people there who understood me! Also I enjoy being part of a live writers’ group and am planning to join a Christian one too. It feels satisfying to be with other writers.

      • seanomurphy August 31, 2012 at 6:57 PM #

        I have not yet attended a writers’ conference but would love to do so. It seems very exciting to be able to network and make real connections with other writers. I hope the writers’ groups help you to fellowship with other writers and be encouraged.

        I am hoping to get the same from mine.


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