I wish, for the sake of the discussion, I could tell you that my daily schedule is as follows:
5:00am: Wake up. Hike to a neighboring mountain summit where I write by hand for seven hours with nothing but trees and lakes and triple rainbows in view.
Noon: Return to an empty house where I eat my lunch while reading Dickinson and Thoreau. I occasionally chuckle to myself, marveling at their ability to create in isolation.
3:00pm: Hike to a neighboring stream where I write until dinner, at which point I catch fish with a fishing pole made out of a beech tree branch, loose thread unraveling from the inseam of my jeans and a paperclip.
8:00pm: After contemplating the sunset and the numerous constellations for which I have made up names, I go to sleep and dream about the next great novel I will write.
But a wonderful wife, four fun kids with their baseball and their ballet, friends, and church keep me from becoming a recluse. Also to my disadvantage: the fact that I have no paperclips in the house.
There is something idealistic about the artist creating alone. Perhaps this stereotype is what fuels my muse so strongly late at night, when the house is quiet, when everyone is sleeping, and for the first time all day the only thing I can hear are the voices in my head.
I think I crave solitude because that’s when the production happens, that’s when the creation takes place, that’s when the part of life I enjoy nearly as much as anything else is allowed to happen. Stories are imagined and told when I am alone, not when I’m Tweeting or coaching baseball or chatting with friends at a backyard barbeque.
* * * * *
Jen’s infamous Tweet that got this discussion started went something like this:
@jenluit One can’t write (or create) without having a communal experience
I’m still not sure that I agree with that statement. “Can’t” is a word that gets my hackles up. My craving for solitude (and infamous inability to work in a team environment) reject “communal experiences.” Yet as much as it pains me to admit it, my own life seems a perfect proof of that little phrase:
In the mornings my social media exploits serve to jostle my mind into position, much like a dog’s endless turnings before finally lying down.
The beautiful feeling of solitude I get late at night would not feel so necessary if not for the days overstuffed with life.
Often, day after day of writing in solitude eventually launches me to a café where I write, absorbing Over the Rhine through my headphones, my fingers racing…and I’m surrounded by the silly, irrelevant activity of strangers.
I guess what I’m trying to say is,
I want to be alone, but on my own terms.
What about you? Solitude or community?
For part one of this
debate argument discussion, check out Jennifer Luitwieler’s “Community or Isolation”
For part two, visit Kristin Tennant at Halfway to Normal for “Living Stories Together, Writing Alone”
(Be sure to tune in here tomorrow to share your most-read blog post of May. No cash prizes this month: only fame and glory).