Just watched a documentary about New York newspaper writers Jimmy Breslin and Pete Hamill. Great film about two guys whose breed is gone with the wind.
Not for a moment will I compare myself to these two giants, but we do share one thing in common: we write because we have to.
A fellow author asked me not long ago, "Why do you write?" You know, I'd not stopped to consider that before so it took me a moment to collect my thoughts.
"I write because I have to," I finally offered. "No choice in it really. I can't imagine not writing. It's me. It's who I am. It's what I do. Writing is my creative outlook. It's one of the ways in which I find contentment. It's been that way as long as I can remember."
Here's the thing. I really can't imagine not writing, it's so much a part of me. It's essential, as natural to my being as a beating heart, as crucial to my existence as breathing, as vital to defining who I am as singing tunes from the Great American Songbook.
Now, in saying this, it does occur to me that writing is often described as the loneliest profession: the only job you do totally on your own. At least that's what Allan Fotheringham told me. (Mind you, Dr. Foth refers to us scribes as "scribblers", but we'll leave comment on that for another day.) Fact is, I should be gratified to learn what I do is called a profession. But lonely? You could term it that way I guess. I mean, as a writer, there's no question you spend hours on your own, focused on pounding words into a keyboard to form some kind of a manuscript. And if your nature is to be content when you're far from the madding crowd, working in a lonely profession is surely where you'll end up. But I sure don't think of my writing as lonely. And I don't like being lonely. When I'm working on non-fiction, I'm constantly in touch with interviewees who bring my stories alive (this morning alone I interviewed people from England and Hollywood). That's stimulating and hardly lonely. And when I'm immersed in developing a work of fiction, I'm surrounded by fascinating characters who comprise the plot. Properly deployed, they'll ensure I'm never the only one in the hall.
Bottom line: I think a writer who finds writing lonely is likely a lonely writer. And that's sad.