The Loneliness of the Long Distance Writer

dexter-catI quite like my own company.

No-one to comment about what I’m doing/should be doing/have done.

No-one to mind the music I’m playing or if the window is open or closed.

No-one to share the (accidentally vegan) ginger biscuits.

And no-one to interrupt when the creative juices are flowing.

But everyone know that you can have too much of a good thing. I mean, look at Tom Hanks in ‘Castaway’.  He started talking to a basketball when he’d had enough of solitary confinement.

And I kind of know what that was all about. Because after a while of pleasing myself with no-one around to comment, I’ll set off looking for company.  And not just someone to talk to – someone to share my writing with. Which is why I take myself off to public poetry readings at the Dock in Carrick on Shannon, and performances with the Hermit Collective.

Third party validation was one of the topics we covered in the recent Journal Keeping course I ran in Charlestown.  It ran on from the unanswerable ‘Why Do I Write?’ question.

We’d already established that keeping a journal is a Very Good Thing for maintaining your sanity. But essentially, in order for it to work properly, it should be private and for your eyes only. Meaning you should be able to write exactly what you want about whatever (and whoever) you want, without censure.

But then we got around to discussing third party validation. Surely writers put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) with the intention of other people reading their words? We seldom write just for ourselves – we want someone else to read what we’ve written.

One of the Journal Keeping participants was adamant that as a creative person she could only engage in writing that was broadcast (in the widest sense of the word) for other people to appreciate. The same with art, music, needlework, craft activities. So it turned out journaling was not for her.

But for the rest of us, we agreed that writing for ourselves and no-one else was a useful part of the creative process.

Empty your head onto paper in your journal – and then pick out the bits you want to go public with, develop them, and accept that some people may like them and some won’t.

Which is exactly what I’m doing right here, right now  🙂

And for your enjoyment, a cute cat picture.  This is Dexter who lives a charmed life with a number of aunties in Dylan Thomas’s old stomping ground in Swansea.

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