The Lonely Writer

Anemone Achtnich (panta rhei) sent us a quote and a question. According to Harold Rosen:

“The writer is a lonely figure cut off from the stimulus and corrective of listeners. He must be a predictor of reactions and act on his predictions. He writes with one hand tied behind his back, being robbed of gesture. He is robbed too of his tone of voice and the aid of clues the environment provides. He is condemned to monologue; there is no one to help out, to fill the silences, put words in his mouth or make encouraging noises.”

Anemone asks do you agree with what Harold Rosen says? Are you a lonely writer? Do you feel, as said above, robbed of gesture and tone of voice, invariably “condemned to monologue” and distanced from your audience when you write? And when you write, are you engaged mostly with yourself, or with your imagined audience?

We’d like to hear your answer as well.

26 Responses

  1. LIVE!Wow! I’m about as far

    Wow! I’m about as far away from this statment as a writer could get.

    I sit on my deck and riff poems from the noise of the streets, the sound of the hood. I sit in coffee houses taking it all in, the voices and the inflections coming from within the people I hear. I ride around town with my Zaar dog and Carole Jean writing down the scenes that appear before us.

    During the day on the construction job I pirate laptops just to get the feeling of life down, sometimes with the business of the day going on right there, beside me.

    O there are times when I’m alone and writing in the wee hours of the morn, when silence rules and there’s only the occasional sound of a train horn. I would have to admit some writers are a lonely lot, but not this wired man, like my teacher Henry Miller I am here to “LIVE!”, my writings are about life, and made to be performed.

  2. a leaf falls in
    a leaf falls in brooklyn

    writing is a heartlink to audience. every charater a simple version of self. every object portrayed, alluded-to or described is the signature of personal perception.

    it comes to a matter of how many characters and people and anthropomorphic machines populate your mind how lonely you are.

    and how well your self kills or kings characters. whether you drive and force all beings from you. or embrace them as facets.

    encouraging noises.

    rarely they come. and have to come from audience rather than the act of writing. you are obliged to your own encouraging noise. grunts. grumbles. snickers. yeehaws and ululations.

    ah but for encouraging noises in the act. like sex. ohs and ahs and mygods. as the quill stains the page.

    imagine the gestures therein. robbed of physical gesture? but i may make verbal gestures. gestures of goodwill. gestural drawings could be made by a haiku. as meaning turns the corners for your hands. like origami.

    i keep agreeing and disagreeing. if a writer isnt everything then how does he know if he’s right?

    words are put in your mouth all the time. best by jazz or folk music in a language you cannot comprehend. otherwise you plagiarize overmuch.

    if the audience is particular. specific. you can be sure the audience receives energy from the writing when they read. the energy put into the spell of a congolomeration of meaning and muse.

    or there is no audience. only a self talking to a self to prevent selfdissolution. dissolving. into being alone.

  3. Response to Harold RosenI do
    Response to Harold Rosen

    I do believe to a degree, that writing can be a lonesome task–the consequence of feeling isolated in a thought continueum or a thought fleeting. A good writer is in a constant state of observation and internalization, yet the beauty of this is the glorious solid precipitate of their interpretation. In this, the writer offers up a piece of themselves, asking their audience to join in. There are steps in the writing process which require the writer to become singular –focusing on the ultimate transformation of thoughts to words to a body of work — speaking to the outside world yet coming from a very personal place. The relationship between writers and their “audience” is indeed collaborative! Giving sharing rejecting of electrons either coming together…or not in the valence shell between self and reality.

  4. NoI’m no writer or poet —

    I’m no writer or poet — though, of course, I know of cold and desperate spells, when I wrote (and will always write) to get my feet to the ground, again. Full of longing, sadness, and indulging in loneliness, shrill and cruel isolation. As if in consumptive beauty.

    But writing, in itself, always was and is a process of discussing, thrashing out, of reflection and consideration. Contemplating and trying out: the different voices of others echoing in me, the distance, the reproach, proposals, desires, various options, thoughts like children gathering. The silly and funny intercepts, sudden rays of hope, games I play with myself, pro and cons on my shoulders, fits of fever and disappointment hooked to strings of imaginations the world of the others gave to me.

    Education and adaptation, neglect. Whispering to myself, then answering for someone else: singing, quoting a lyric, an admonition, something like a prayer, vision, proverb, guideline, filled with culture’s quarry. Playing with ideas, melodies for feelings: poems.
    In short: there can be monologue, but there never is actual lack of interaction. Just can’t be.
    And often, ‘loneliness’ is like a flirtation.

    Help is in the mind already, projections of the environment as well – if run out of interaction patterns: listen to the street, mingle, learn – then return, carve and polish the bundles of sights, the bunches of view, and voices, within you and without you.

    More lonely is the science investigator, researcher in nights of measurements, listening to the feeble voices of nature. But also these carry songs, there are theories about the character of their responses. Interviews, interweaving. Myriads of sounds.
    Monologue without interaction is an illusion, a chimera. (I know, I hope so.)

    And I know, Panta, that you don’t feel real lonely while writing, You know: ‘interaction’ as You wrote lately — and ‘everything flows’, forces everywhere. And Your sense for being alive.

    “My book is closed; I read no more
    watching the fire dance on the floor.
    I have left my book: I have left my room:
    For I heard you singing through the gloom …”
    (Goldenhair/V, from James Joyce’s Chamber Music)

    (You may know that song as it is sung by Syd Barrett (ex-Pink Floyd) within hollow stillness, but radiant determination, as well, fit for seizing life)

  5. Telemetry11001.101.10011.Writ


    Writing is like a deep-space probe into readers’ minds: Once launched, it’s not coming back. So words need to be very carefully engineered for their one-way journey.

    I like to imagine that these vehicles aren’t lost in the abyss.

    Then again, by the time they’re launched…

  6. Within the wordless
    Within the wordless world

    Writing has its own trajectory, one that may not be auditory or public. The words on the page simmer with each other, making a soup of meanings that could not possibly be made on stage. In poetry especially, there is a flow that breaks down the time restraints and the face to face requirements. Writing is true freedom within the wordless world.

  7. Writing is dialogueThis
    Writing is dialogue

    This question you’ve posed, anemone, sits with me, confronts me and alongside it, there await a million other questions, comments and statements hovering in the air.

    Words are stimulated by the environment. My output on a page are formulations of answers or channelings of what is being posed in the abstract zone of existence.

    Writing is dialogue. The stimulus is all around me, and the response comes from within. I attempt to erase my inner noises and offer as pure a response as possible to what I’m being asked.

    Those who hear the outer world might choose to paint or dance their responses, but still, expression comes in response to outer stimulus.

    The writer is no exception. Yet, if Harold Rosen feels that writing is pure monologue, then perhaps Harold Rosen has a lot of purging to accomplish before he’s ready to deal with the present moment and the questions being posed to him in the Now.

  8. what a celebration of
    what a celebration of interactive life! Mark you make writing sound like a continual Escher print – a writer interweaving with the environment. Cloth on a perpetually moving loom.

  9. I’m with you, Wireman. A
    I’m with you, Wireman. A writer need not be lonely or cut off from the world. Sometimes, when I finally get a chance to be alone, I relish the opportunity. My life is full of friends and family. It hasn’t always been that way, but it is now.

  10. If Only I’d Write What
    If Only I’d Write What Others’d Read

    I write for myself first and my muse second but a writer should write for the reader and if the writer does that I can’t see a disconnect. It takes time alone to write something because others’ language distracts me when I’m writing as does any language so I usually listen to music that doesn’t have words to block out the car horns and people yelling.
    I want to deliver up a product for the reader because that’s what it’s all about, to engage the world, to deliver the reader on a mental journey.

    I don’t have an audience and, as of yet, I can count on one hand the people I know of that have read my first novel, and only one has read the second and none have read the third which I sent to one friend who’s too busy or the book’s too bad.

    One must do the cliched keep on keepin’ on.

    I picked up a copy of Winesburg, Ohio yesterday and feel Anderson speaks directly to the me, which is what good writing’s all about, making an image come alive on the reader’s mental TV set.

    If the screen’s blank, the writer failed.

    I want to do something real after I finish my current project which feels nearly dead.

  11. Ash Tray Limb Lettersdipped
    Ash Tray Limb Letters

    dipped back sixteen, first page completed, scribbles everywhere, dark, depressing, a tad morbid, 23 now, pattern began alone, writing self reflection, opening eyes for first time, aging centuries in pause state, patterns come, mainly go, attempts at keeping it, gather resources, expel formed art, inhale, exhale, truth has many revealing, change can interrupt pattern, developing focus, take your socks off, green tree climbing, branch bark impression on bottom left foot, hot latte pen pusher, loneliness come and go, city writer, farm land typist, small town keyboardist, many ways, trying them all, opinion all have, to each there own, square burnt down, eyes need rest, tomorrow is here, wake soon, begin once yet another transition, mi gusta

  12. judih….the words and music
    judih….the words and music are wired into the fabric of my being, and it is an awesome feeling!

  13. O yeah!…I too relish the
    O yeah!…I too relish the alone times now, my senses aroused, the mind plays with every lil sound….

  14. Solitary ManI’ve always been
    Solitary Man

    I’ve always been a bit of an outsider. Even my friends, of whom there are about 3, have all said, at one time: “you’re a bit of a weird one/outsider/loner really, aren’t you?”

    And, they’re right and I’m right too. And, consequently, I agree with the quote.

    Writing requires time to sit and compose the words in your head and then arrange them on a page, rearrange if you’re so inclined.

    I write what I see and feel. I don’t write with an audience in mind. Quite the opposite: I generally imagine being the only reader of my work. This is a good thing to do; it prevents me worrying about the feelings of others. If I worried about the feelings of others I’d edit and censor too much of what I write.

    That said: I feel a great sense of happiness when I read something written by someone else which I can totally relate to. So maybe it isn’t about being a Solitary Man. Maybe the art is solitary but the sentiment is universal.

    A writer writes alone but writes for many.

  15. I Think I AgreeBut I think
    I Think I Agree

    But I think it’s because I don’t write for an audience, I write for myself. I write to hear the sound of my own voice, because I’m interested to hear what it would say, because I’m interested to ask why it would say such a thing. I have over-listened to the voices of others. I write to find my own.

    Getting positive audience feedback on my writing has sometimes led me to write more of what they want, in order to generate more positive audience feedback. It’s a kind of Pavlovian effect.

    Getting negative audience feedback has sometimes led me to explain points at long lengths, a characteristic in writers I loathe, or to overcorrect back towards peace with additions of rainbows and candy canes that float in the air around my words.

    So I’ve gone back to writing in my journal. Just carrying a book and pen around in my bag. Stopping for a cup of coffee or just reposing in an empty stairwell when words start to bubble to the surface. Getting it all down. Taking good notes.

    I guess I am a lonely writer, but I guess that’s the way I like it best. My writing is my one place of privacy, it’s my retreat into myself. My pen is the compass and my paper the path, on which I am finally free to wander alone, glorious amok.

  16. ….yes, and in turn the
    ….yes, and in turn the words are a launching pad for a spontaneous spoken word jammin’ reverie….wired

  17. ….kinda like that big “NOW”
    ….kinda like that big “NOW” explosion that leads to the stream of spontaneous reverie, I wonder if Harold ever jammed, or did his education always make him always look at the lesson plan?

  18. umm”What I write is thinly

    “What I write is thinly veiled portraits of myself. I can always make myself the hero in fiction, in my own mind. Yes, often I am just as jaded or even more jaded in these events that get put down on paper. I write because I am lonely. I write because words soothe me almost as well reading off the screen as I type as the aforementioned person’s words would soothe me next to bed in to me in a blissful state. I write because I am lost.” -from an old posting on ‘the traditional message boards’ by Slog

    It isn’t merely because the other day I was reading Eco that all of the sudden I have this need to become overly self-reverential; I have always had this need to be overly self-reverential. I am not a happy person. Yes, if you were to meet me in person you would probably believe I am absolutely carefree. That all I want is a girl with some flowers in her hair.

    In all honesty it isn’t that simple. In my fiction I become criminalized, deified, sated, hated and in my own life nothing comes close to the magnitude of these fictional realities. I can’t lie. I generally in some roundabout way am the first person narrator in my stories, or first person hidden behind the not so objective voice that I occasionally write in.

    Perhaps my writings would have more acclaim if I managed to escape this deviancy. Good stories follow certain rules and conventions. People are taught to read in scripts so works like Gravity’s Rainbow or even Timequake are not within the mainstream ideation of what fiction is supposed to be. And it is true I am not accomplished enough as the author of simple formulaic stories to esteem to reach such lofty goals.

    I don’t write for an audience other then myself. Sometimes my stories are read here and there by others. Once in a great moon someone may even praise them. I believe one litkicker name Firsty once wrote ‘Write a novel I will scream it from the rooftops.”

    Would it be possible for me to say that I do not enjoy such accolades? No, I gain at least placidity from comments like that as much as I do when a word I use can be looked up without much difficulty online at Merriam Webster’s site however the word lacks any merit with Microsoft’s Word’s spell check.

    Thus, I cannot maintain that I do not gain some degree of merit from other’s reading my stories. My stories are my like the balm I take for mood disorders and my poetry more like the whiskey I drink to disturb my thoughts. I always feel alone.

    The characters are both inventions and memories. Often times they are ‘invented memories’ as John Dewey has said men are creatures of memories. We live in our memories. We take pleasure from things we have remembered. Reminders of fantasies incomplete and what makes a fantasy so beautiful according to Plato is that we haven’t attained it. Dreams would be quite worthless if we could achieve the semiotic necessity of them.

    I can relive phantasm desires without having to leave the front of a computer via prose. Any drug I wished to take, any picture I wish to see, any woman I wish to bed, any place I wish to go—and needless to say I can relive any part of past or future or present or there of with merely imagining the words and typing them down at break neck pace.

    People generally are somewhat unsure what to think of me. Considering where I live, that hardly is a surprise. South Dakota encourages me to write. What am I going to do? The opera hardly an option in a town of 24,000 three hundred miles from the nearest vestige of civilization, I have my books, and often times (A copy of some Russell essays comes to mind) I am the first one to read them in sixty years. Talking about Russell I quote “Some books you read to enjoy and some books you read to impress people,” which is a brilliantly enough comment but the populace of the institution that surrounds you the furthest any of quasi-intelligent is a stray track of Nietzsche.

    Oh yeah, last time someone talked to me about Existentialism in any form he told me in it was based in Cartesian Dualism. I guess it may be the subject matter that makes me lonely.

  19. Easy and HardIt’s all very
    Easy and Hard

    It’s all very romantic to picture that any artist or writer lives a lonely existence, hunched over a dark desk and that only works of art can come from a tortured mind. That’s bollocks! Loneliness does not stem from being a writer or because one writes. You can be in any occupation or of hobby and be lonely or not.

    I don’t feel disconnected from my audience, mostly because I do not know who they will be, and most I have written will nay see the light of publishing perhaps. Tied hands not behind my back but a frustration wringing through them if I have writer’s block.

    It can be a lonely feeling if you are trying to convey something through your writing and it is not heard. Writer’s block is lonely! But overall, writing is pleasing, and a way to express thoughts and creativity. I don’t think the writer has a hard time or one voice to express with. Different narratives provide different voices. And the audience’s imagination does the rest of the work. I know I often try to picture what the characters look like, and their surroundings, regardless of whether or not the author provided much details or superb punctuation.

  20. Writingwith or without an

    with or without an audience, writing for me is always dialogue: the perfect schizophrenia with the perfect delay, the uncomfortable animated museum, the vivid pantheism, the last chat in mind, memories, dreams, throwing rocks, kind shadows, news, diligent and lazy antagonists, people, sensations, history, things, books…

    I write but I feel the term ‘writer’ too heavy or obvious for me. For me, writing isn

  21. Sherwood Anderson is an
    Sherwood Anderson is an amusing one. if you like that try ‘the torrents of spring’ by the master himself, hemingway. the ‘autobiography of alice.’ goes with it.

    also ford maddox ford, whom i haven’t read is also put in that genre, along with dorothy parker and fitzgerald to a lesser extent, and also of course their spirtual grandma and grandpa joyce and wolff. i’d prefer beckett. i guess you realize these authors, albeit fairly well known, haven’t been read except for little bits in decades.

    literature might be dead as a genre — eighty years from now no one will be talking about us. makes one kinda said doesn’t it. if beckett wants to be obtuse, fine. if finnegan’s wake is a monster, fine. but not for use. you have to write so people can understand it. read some essays on general semantics — i’m not a fan — but quite often they are accurate people become abstract most of the time because they either want to impress the reader with their own brillance, or because they simply have nothing to say. of course i’m not knocking you. i’d be a hypocrite to do that — but question am i writing something worth reading. somebody said the great artists dont worry about the implications of what they write. perphaps we are not great and can merely strive to be good and hope someone reads something we write.

  22. Id [imposedonreality]I write
    Id [imposedonreality]

    I write neither strictly for a traditional audience or myself. I write for the entire world, I write for being, I write for yellowed walls and lighting struck trees and the glint of soft strange eyes on trolleys. Whatever loneliness I feel is not that loneliness of artistry, it is not loneliness that springs from the act of writing — for me, writing is a communal act, an act of compassion and convergence that unites the entire world, intelligible or otherwise. Rather, it is the occasional yet pervasive loneliness that troubles all of us as human beings: inseparable, unified by energy and languages, yet alone in our skin and bone shells.

    My day is full of encouraging noises, a natural dialogue between me and the letters on pages, the texture of rough paper, the wet smell of November paired with warm burning cedar. All the world is my coconspirator, whispering poetic stanzas in the form of a breeze, sonnets in the smell of jasmine, confessions in the form of a Harvest moon. I am not a lonely writer – rather, I am a human being, forced into this world with the scope of human emotions, and I live and write them, no matter how scary, crazy, silly, stupid, futile, beautiful, chaotic they might be. Even in silent midnights, when dust doesn’t dare to fall for fear of breaking the stillness, when the only company I have is a dirty, nicotine stained ceiling, I am not alone.

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