Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The loneliness of a long distance writer

Loneliness is a state of mind. You need not be alone to feel lonely. Nor do you need to feel lonely if you are alone. Perhaps the greatest loneliness is not in living thousands of miles from the people closest to you, but in being surrounded by people every day who seem so far away.

A writer should write about what he knows. Or so the saying goes. Perhaps this could be worded differently.  A writer should write about the things that he yearns for, but are always just out of reach. Running the marathon of his own emotion and lack of experience. There will always be something missing.

It's a question of maturity, I suppose. Wine gets better as it ages. But should we really compare ourselves to wine? Perhaps we are more like water, which evaporates.

How can there be loneliness in writing when you are reaching out and speaking to the world? Instead of keeping your most intimate thoughts to yourself, you are sharing them with strangers, with little knowledge or control as to where they may finally end up. True, you may clothe it as a fictional account, leaving it to your readers to guess where you are in all of this. But when it comes down to it, it is all you. And when you have finished writing, you are just another stranger reading the words, wondering who this writer may be, hidden between the lines on a page with no ending and no beginning.

I once thought that the loneliest part of writing was in the writing, itself. But I have slowly come to realize that it is in the emptiness and echoes which follow. It distances you from others, rather than bringing them closer. You have set out by yourself on a long and sometimes treacherous journey, but for them it is as if you never left. And the more you write, the less they know you.

What is it that a writer and a long distance runner have in common? Is it the distance we must travel? The pain and anguish in getting there? Or the loneliness which encases us in our solitary cell, moving almost unnoticed among the others until we reach the finish line. Even then, we may disappear into a sea of faces. But our journey has been recorded. Whether or not this has meaning for others, it surely must have some meaning for ourselves.

Yet there is no finish in writing. Just as the long distance runner never stops running - even if his body betrays him and he continues running only in his mind. Although at times we become so tired, we wonder what would happen if we simply stopped.

I can't imagine stopping, for I can't imagine living without even the echoes.

1 comment:

  1. Then, sometimes, for the marathon runner, the faces of the ones running besides him take the place of the faces he was running towards.