It has been said many times and by many people that writing is a lonely profession.
While the act of writing is solitary — who can get into our heads and create stories except ourselves? — we aren’t necessarily alone.
I’m thinking of the writers who scribble their words while keeping an eye on their children playing underfoot, or keeping an ear out for the summons of a spouse who doesn’t quite get that writing time is sacred.
Some writers prefer the background noise of a pub or coffee shop, where they can be alone surrounded by people.
And some enjoy writing in the presence of other writers.
I didn’t get this latter situation. Why would a group of writers want to sit down at a table and work on their novels or short stories or memoirs? I thought it would be distracting, with more interruptions than my brain could handle. I thought, somewhat disdainfully, that the hour would be spent talking about writing rather than actually doing it.
But my writer’s club (where we talk about writing) decided that we should initiate a Write-In once a month. A restaurant with a private room was selected, and our president made a standing reservation.
The first time I took my tablet and pens and serious doubts.
I needn’t have worried. My fellow writers greeted me and we set to work. For an hour we scribbled or typed in silence, the ambient noise from the diner in the main room filtering through the closed doors. Occasionally the waitress poked her head in and ask if we needed anything. We muttered “no” or requested another cup of coffee.
While we didn’t talk, I was aware of the others sitting on either side and across from me. It was curiously comforting to know they were there, struggling as much as I was with the chore of digging out the right word, the perfect phrase, the shaping of our stories. While we were working on individual projects, we were also involved in something that connected us.
I can’t say I accomplished very much. For the past months, ideas have come and been rejected. I haven’t been able to settle on anything specific. It has been like traveling through a barren land and for some time I have wondered if I will ever write another book.
But the fact that I had to write something during that hour got me going. I can’t say I have started a new project, but at least I have some ideas on paper. Being around people intent on their work acted as an impetus I hadn’t known I needed.
We did talk writing after our allotted time was up. We ordered lunch and some read what they had written while others asked for help in specific areas. I didn’t share my ramblings, explaining that it was just thoughts that needed to be put into a coherent whole.
I left with the feeling that perhaps my desert had a a few oases I could rely on to get me to where I wanted to be, and fellow travelers who would join me on at least a part of my journey.
Writing is a lonely and sometimes frustrating profession.
But you don’t necessarily have to do it alone.
You can still vote for A Question of Time, listed under Historical-Post Medieval, in the RONE contest at http://www.indtale.com/2016-rone-awards-week-six. Voting ends today.