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The Oneliness of the Long Distance Writer January 22, 2009

Posted by Onely in Dating, Food for Thought, Great Onely Activities.
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I’ve been thinking about how writing is so solitary. And about how writing is such a slow process.  Solitary plus slow equals lots of time spent by myself, perhaps–perhaps!–even more than suits my introverted nature.

‘Course maybe my writing goes slowly because I spend so much time staring at the screen thinking about how my writing goes slowly. When I’m working on a particularly grueling, stubborn, stiff-dictioned story, I sometimes wonder if it’s worth the effort. Writing one polished page may take hours (Joyce Carol Oates, bite me) before it’s ready to be submitted to some publication that may or may not want it, more likely the latter.

Would my time be more wisely spent going out with my friends? Sometimes I wonder this, when I’m sitting wedged between my laptop and my massage chair (I know, poor me), typing at an average rate of one click per minute–and that’s if you include all my backspaces.

And so help me, during my most miserable artist moments, sometimes an evil heteronormative cockroach climbs into my ear and whispers, “Forget the (novel, or essay, or whatever). Put all those hours toward finding and keeping a nice man. He’ll be more of a sure thing, and more beneficial to your well-being.”

In response, I scream, stand up, and jump on one foot, shaking my head until the roach drops out like a clump of chlorinated water.  “Says who,” I say, “Says who?”

A relationship is like a writing project. You can work and work and work at it, spending hours of time with it, and still not know if it will be successful in the end.  So right now, I  choose to play the writing lottery rather than the relationship lottery.

Copious Readers, how much does a lack of time and energy contribute to your Oneliness (if you are in fact single)? Do you have a time-consuming passion or a necessary activity that precludes a romantic interest from your life?

And as a bonus for making it to the end of this post, here’s a link to an interesting beta site:  http://singlewriters.com/

–CC

PS. Thanks to Alan Sillitoe‘s ‘The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner”, about a young runner who protests social injustice by refusing to win the race he is expected to win.

PPS. Actually, I quite like Joyce Carol Oates.

Comments»

1. onely - January 22, 2009

OH, I must only utter three letters to explain where my passion lies: P. H. D.!

– L

2. Alan - January 22, 2009

I admit I do have little time for relationships right now, given that I’m in school full-time and nearing graduation.

But even if I wasn’t, I still would remain Onely.

3. lori - January 22, 2009

I have been learning to play the violin for the past three years in fulfillment of a dream I’ve had since I was a kid: During the six-month relationship I had in ’07, my progress definitely stalled, so I’m not looking for an all-consuming ‘duet’ either.

4. onely - January 23, 2009

I think that maybe an already-established romantic relationship can handle if one of the people goes through a distracting period of school, or learning something (like violin). I think what’s hard is to dedicate time to dating/new relationship when you’re in school, or otherwise obsessed with a hobby. (Though let’s note that if Lori spent twenty hours a week practicing her violin, she might be called “obsessed”, but if she were spending twenty hours a week with her boyfriend on the phone, seeing movies, lounging, etc., that would be accepted as normal. Interesting!)
Ok, back to my own schoolwork. . . wheeee… Friday! = )
CC

5. lori - January 24, 2009

That’s a funny distinction CC, and another twist to “it’s okay to be completely absorbed in your life if you’re married and/or have children, but you’re obsessed or self-absorbed if you don’t.”

In my twenties I would easily lose myself in whatever current relationship I was in, then had to start over after every break-up to pull my friendships and hobbies back into my world. Now in my late thirties, I’m simply unwilling (or afraid) to completely forfeit the nurturing of passions, interests, family and friendships that comprise the whole of who I have become.

This violin dream was shared with my sister, going back to right after college. I thought that it was merely postponed when she became preggo and married, so I waited, then there were two more kids. Hard lesson: I am a late-bloomer in learning to live on my own terms; but now fairly unapologetic and protective about it.

6. Singlutonary - January 24, 2009

Heres to being unapologetic and protective about living on one’s own terms!

I realized fairly early on that I was *too* passionate about my projects, my life, etc. So I spent years trying to figure out how to be a regular girlfriend who liked to hang out with her boyfriend on the weekends.

For some reason, that wasn’t going to work for me!

Now I’ve embraced my focus and passion! I’m not sure that it precludes a romantic relationship but it does eliminate a great deal of romantic options. And that is totally ok with me cause this is my life and its worth living!

But, Onely, I agree with you that writing is a particularly solitary and slow process which can be terrifying and torturous.

Thanks for the post!

onely - January 25, 2009

Yay, thanks everyone—I shall return to this comment string for sustenance during my writing tantrums. = ) CC

7. bobby - January 26, 2009

I have time to date, just not the, um, shall we say, fortitude to do so. My writing/blogging I do sheerly from love. The only time I really just stare at the computer, is when I work on my novel-novella, whatever it is. I don’t worry too much about the writing itself (self evident I suppose) but a writer is a writer, good or bad, I can accept the latter as long as I can write :)

So I guess I’m in a different situation than you CC.

8. Still Onely - February 13, 2009

What a blessed relief to find that I am not the only onely. Apparently, writers are a peculiar lot to others. I’ve had too many relationships where the other person just didn’t get it. Now I’m facing yet another high school reunion where my life still hasn’t worked out according to the recipe of the day. Now I know. I’ve made a choice to be Onely. It’s not a shame or a crime. It is peculiar but let’s face it, who’s going to put up with those 3:30 a.m. bursts of writing?

onely - February 13, 2009

“recipe of the day”– I love that! They’re crockpotting while you’re the stirfry. You’re definitely not alone.
You’re right, though–there’s a stereotype of writers as wierd loners, and also a stereotype of singles as wierd loners: put them together and I guess you’ve got the freaking unabomber for goodness’ sake. = ) CC

9. Singletude - February 19, 2009

I’m coming late to this one, but I had to share because, as a writer, I related to every carefully crafted word of this post! I have to admit that every so often, as I agonize over the same sentence that I changed twice yesterday, that same little voice sidles up to me and whispers, “All this would be so much easier with someone to love and support you. Shouldn’t that someone be a man?” (That little voice gets around, doesn’t he???) Usually I try to bat him away, but he returns with mosquito-like persistence. Well, today I am slapping it away once and for all because I have proof–yes, proof!–that that gadfly has been the bearer of evil lies!

Over Valentine’s Day weekend, I broke up with someone I had been seeing for awhile and had come to care for greatly. It wasn’t easy. But I did it anyway because, contrary to his advertised role as prince, knight, and savior of my life, that man did not support my writing. Not one bit. Although he often told me how talented he thought I was, he preferred that I invest my talent in a more lucrative career, one that would help to fund his dreams. I will confess I ended up doubting my direction in life so much that I was too depressed to write or do much of anything besides schlep between his place and mine.

Now that I’ve stopped waiting for his white horse to pull up to my curb, I’m writing again. Academics, artists, and others in what I’ll call slow-maturing professions do need support from other people. I get mine from my family and friends. Funny that.

onely - February 20, 2009

SLOW-MATURING PROFESSIONS! I love it! And good job for ditching that unsupportive pip.–CC
PS. I don’t know what a pip is. But he was one.

10. Singlutionary - February 19, 2009

Oh goodness, Singletude! I know exactly what you mean. My most recent relationship was very much the same! He was all into my creative career(s) in THEORY but in reality he didn’t want me to do anything that distracted me from HIM!

I am proud of you and welcome back to singledom!


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