Friday, August 23, 2013


I go for walks. I get up early. I read books. These are solitary things. Like writing is a solitary thing. 

When I was a kid I read a lot. In my house everyone did. It was a survival technique. We all went off and read alone somewhere. It was how you got away from everyone else. So, for better or worse, I am well read and I yearned early on to become a grown-up who could write a good book. 

That yearning was a solitary thing, growing like a sapling in the soil of other solitary things – the walking, the getting up early. These things are all part of my quiet inner self. They go together: the writing, the reading, the being alone and quiet.

The rest of my life is as noisy as anyone else’s. 

I was on my standard 20-minute get-out-of-the-office afternoon walk yesterday and I was thinking about a writing competition I might do and of Twitter friends and of a press release I should do about my book – I am one of the legions of writers now tasked with getting the word out about our work. 

Writing has become a double-job: you write and you sell. 

When I was a teenager and doing my yearning I didn’t imagine the second part, the selling part. Other people did that. But they don’t do it anymore. They have abdicated. 

And it’s okay – in many ways I enjoy the online life, the finding of people across the globe who respond in similar ways to the same 140 characters that I do and so on.

But yesterday I did wonder. How will this affect my writing, our writing? I am writing this blog post, yes, because these are my thoughts and I want to write them down, but also because blogs exist as a way of letting the world know who you are and what you are up to. I am writing this post as a way of filling out my online identity.

What would I be writing if I were still in solitary mode, if I were allowed to stay in that state of mind that thrives on walks and silence and other books? What would any of us be writing? 

I thought these things with a sense of loss yesterday.

And then acceptance. This is the world in which I write. In twenty years it may well be different again and that too will affect the way I and we write. And I may find myself looking back on these years with some kind of nostalgia. 

Outside my window it is just beginning to get light. 


  1. I've pondered similar thoughts in regard to online life & writing & thinking through my oh-so-solitary days of writing as I wrote my way out of The Way and into life. I haven't and may never cross the "selling" aspect. Though I do get nudges at times to "Write a book Carol!"

    I am "oneperson" who is beyond thankful for the day that the then-@artomatcarol (now @museandmust) and @MemoirWriter paths crossed on Twitter. The rest of the story continues to unfold in my solitary writing life and on my blog.

    Much love!
    ~Carol <3

  2. Thank you Carol for this response, reminding me again what is most important...coild all this online bru-haha be a way of skirting deeper, more personal, more adventurous writing...?...hmmm...

  3. Hi Marta,
    I think all writing is a sort of conversation, an interaction of ideas between two or more people. You may write alone, and need the solitariness to gather your thoughts and put them in order, but almost everything written is designed to be read. Even most diaries are read by others. Writing - and reading - are pro-active pursuits. I don't know if this helps, but you've made me think, which is good.
    All the best,

    1. Dear Pippa, I am tremendously grateful for your close reading and thoughtful response. I find your words accurate and comforting! In some part of me I know these distinctions might not be so critical, and yet I continue to feel a certain friction between some imagined "solo, private" writing, and what feels like its opposite: the online dancing. In any event, it sure feels good to have company. Thank you again.

  4. I have to confess, that I do sometimes find myself wishing for the old days where there was no such thing as an online identity. But…it is what it is (smile), so I will keep coming out of the quiet and put myself out in the social media world in the most authentic way I can. Thanks for writing a post that made me think and reflect. All the best, D.

  5. Dear Diane, Well, if it wasn't for this online world and our online identities I never would have met you! So itt does have its advantages! Thank you for reading and for your thoughtful, quiet response.