Yesterday, I shared a quote from Hemingway about writing being a lonely life. It prompted a lot of comments from my fellow bloggers/writers. If there’s anything I would like my blog to be it’s a place for conversation. So, in that spirit …
Maybe “lonely” is the wrong word, although there’s some truth as it applies to me, I believe.
Years ago, my first job out of law school required that I travel quite a bit. More often than not, I looked forward to my trips. A chance to get away, to relax, to just do my own thing. And when I got to my destination I was almost always bored. Lonely. Missing people and interaction. I was a hearing officer. Which basically means I was like the judge. In special education hearings where parents are unhappy with how school districts were meeting the needs of their disabled children. The hearings took all day. Some times, day after day after day. Because of my role, I couldn’t really interact with the parties. I was supposed to be neutral, impartial. As a result, the idea of engaging the parents, attorneys, or school employees in some real dialogue was, well not gonna happen. I remember calling a co-worker late one afternoon and telling her how much I craved real human interaction when I was on the road.
Fast forward a few years and I discovered writing — something I had always wanted to do, but had not figured out. One day, I outlined a novel in my head on my drive home from work. The door was blown open that day and I haven’t stopped writing since. The problem is that the desire to write pulls me away from those valuable human interactions. It’s the yin and the yang of my existence. I love nothing better than a great conversation with a good friend. The opportunity to share feelings and thoughts, opinions and beliefs. My best moments these days come in one-on-one exchanges with dear friends. But, then, there are these other times when I want nothing more than to be left alone. To be able to sit in a corner and think and write and be away.
I referred to it today with a colleague as living inside of my head. These stories never stop spinning there. The desire to write the next compelling blog post is front and center up there in the cobwebby recesses. I think of a story and how much I want to write it, and then I go to a get together, or a meeting, or to work, or work on a yard project, and want to crawl into a ball. “No,” I want to scream. “Leave me alone. Don’t you understand? There’s this story. It’s right there.” And, in my vision, I point at my forehead. “It has to come out. I’m tired of it being there. Please. Just. Stop. All of this other nonsense must end so I can get the story out.”
But, that’s not what life is like. There’s the job. The one I have to have to support the family. There’s the house and its call on my time. There’s this. There’s that. There is so much stuff that interferes with what’s in my head. And that’s what leaves me feeling lonely. Isolated. Alone.
There are many reasons for this, but my goal in the next few years is to escape it all. As a state worker, magic things will happen for me in terms of health care and retirement the day I turn 55. My youngest will be 22 then and hopefully done with his undergraduate education. Hopefully. It is that moment when I will escape all of this responsibility. It’s only six years away now.
I take days off every once in awhile now. Not tied to a vacation or something specific. Just a day off here or there. A couple of weeks ago, I had one. A bike ride, a nap, a little bit of writing, some cooking. That’s a day for me. Our garage door broke today. I’ll have to hang out at home and wait for the repairman. Dang. So many choices, so little time.
Anyway, there’s something about this writing thing that has pulled me away from people. My immediate family. Doesn’t read my blog. Rarely asks me about what I’m writing. I go to get-togethers with good friends and wonder why I’m there when I could be sitting and writing. And, then, when I have some time, I waste it with the distractions of the modern world. Maybe though, given my family’s seeming lack of interest, it isn’t writing that has pulled me away. Instead, it is writing that provides me with a haven. A place to be. Away from the deficits in the rest of my life.
Chicken or the egg. What comes first? Writing or isolation. Art or loneliness. What do you think? Is it me?