Writing is lonely. It is quiet, except for maybe the sound of keys clicking away or the soft scratch of a pencil on paper. But, when a writer realizes that they need to write, it doesn't come from a place of silence. We write because our mind is so loud and unruly that something has got to give. If there was any other way to sustain ourselves, we would probably choose it. Writing is a last resort.
To write, we need to be alone. We need to know how to move beyond the distraction of the chatty women in the coffee shop, the unmade bed in our room, and write. We need to be so interested in this aloneness that we build our lives around it. What is so scary about being not-so-close to people? I don’t mean we have to get rid of all people, things, and outings in our life. It is also not to say that we don’t want to be heard, eventually. We all want to be heard. We just have to say something first.
Get to know loneliness. Make friends with it. Get to know it by its other names. The ones that sound something like 'Myself' or something other than that. Ask it questions like 'why are you here? or 'How can I help you?' The poet John Donahue said that as a child, he was scared of a graveyard in his town, terrified that he would run into a ghost. He was taught that if he were to ever meet a ghost he should ask 'What do you want?' In the end, he said, he never ran into a ghost.
If we confronted loneliness, maybe this it would say something like 'Sit down awhile. There's something I need to tell you." Maybe it would be taken aback and not know what to say because it never expected you to ask. In this case just sit down awhile beside each other and wait for someone to speak first. It will likely be you. Because loneliness probably just wants to get to know you. Tell it about the time when you were pushing your son in the swing and a butterfly landed on his red shoe. You wanted to remember this forever and your son was terrified. This and other beautiful moments that we just aren't quite sure how to put into words. But try.
We could realize that we have stories to fill up the entire universe and that we forget about the universe most of the time. Don't forget to bring a pen and something to write on. Loneliness likes these kinds of things. When everything is said and done, tell it you will come back tomorrow and make sure you show up one time.
Don't be upset if it forgets to come the next day. The thing with loneliness is that it is so quiet. It might even be there and you would never know. But, you know what to do. Write it a story for when it does come back because, let's face it, it probably will. But, at least you will have something to talk about.
Image from SweetMontana