Friday, December 08, 2006

Life is the Fuel

I like reading journals by well-known writers I admire. Steinbeck & Woolf are among my favorite journals. Steinbeck often talks about not getting any writing done when he stays up too late with friends, goes out or has people over, etc., etc. Very human of him - comforting. I thought about Steinbeck's late nights this evening as we came rolling in at 11 pm from a festive and sumptuous dinner. Life is the fuel - the fuel of our writing. Some solitary time is needed, but we also need to live, make merry, be among our fellow humans. Or perhaps solitude is the fuel and life is the main ingredients, the raw material.

In "LETTERS TO A YOUNG POET," by Rainier Maria Rilke, Rilke encourages a young man in his solitary, almost hermit-like occupation, extoling the virtues of solitude for the poet.

What mixture of solitude and human conviviality works for you as a writer?


  1. I honestly can't say exactly what the mixture is. For emotionally charged material, I definitely need time to myself. Sometimes I even draw the window blinds; I don't want people to even see me. And after getting deep into a mindset, headspace, or whatever like that, especially after an extended period, going out and reestablishing some human contact is just vital.

  2. It seems the human contact of the equation generally happens between periods of writing. It is essential - for recovery, recharging, fermentation of new ideas - but it generally doesn't happen simultaneously with the act of writing.

    Although, this does make me think about the "Company of Writers" thread. That's a different kind of human contact, with a different purpose in the writing process.


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