The Lonely Life of a Writer

writing

Writing is a solitary enterprise and that, overall, suits me just fine. After a day at work surrounded by other people, love them though I may, I long for some time alone where I can think, reflect, and just be without interruption or diversion.

To be a writer is to selflessly shed the blood of one’s most intimate thoughts and feelings, along with otherwise underutilized charm and wit, only to, for the most part, suffer the subtle rejection of silence. It is to always be on the verge of the unknown, to throw out ideas and not to know where they may land.

Reading too is a solitary endeavor. Readers sit in blessed silence, submerging themselves into another world that opens them up — intellectually, spiritually, and emotionally — and enlivens them. It makes their daily existence in the tangible material world even more meaningful as the two worlds become forever intertwined through the conscience of the reader.

But writing is also a conversation between writer and reader — and one in which the reader too often remains silent. Written text is a private conversation that takes place in a hidden world full of secrets that neither reader nor writer will ever fully visualize or understand. Each retains their own perception of the text and the vivid worlds they have created together remain distinct in many ways. The world of the author and reader too often do not connect in authentic or purposeful ways.

Readers unfortunately most often respond to the writer (at least to this writer) when they are in disagreement, when what has been written somehow violates the social, cultural, economic, political, intellectual, and/or emotional arrangements they have made for the world in which they live. Like when a reader responded to my kind offer to share a copy of Ashley and Tiana by writing a long-winded, scathing review in a way that only a bitter middle-age man could. The world I created did not in any way intersect with his — and in addition to that, I had the nerve to use an en dash instead of an em dash.

Several years ago, Public Enemy engaged their fans in the process of writing a song. While I chose not to participate at the time, and rap music historians thank me, I really appreciated both the intent of this project and the process that surely unfolded. But opening yourself up in such a way as an artist also brings a great deal of risk — especially of destroying the sacred pristine expression of all that is good and true to you. It takes a lot of courage to co-create with others, particularly when those others are able to self-select.

Yes, vanity likes on social media are nice, and validation of my ideas is also sincerely valued. It is heartwarming to know that there are other people in the world who notice, understand, and appreciate my perspective. But it seems shallow to not desire more, like provocation of life-changing self-realizations and inspiration of ideas that positively transform the world. Or maybe that is just selfish.

All of Me

I have been writing online in one form or another since 1998. I recall developing my first website in my West Philadelphia apartment. It was simply and aptly titled ‘Utopia.’ Having long harboured the dream of publishing a magazine, online media presented an opportunity for me to share my ideas without the resources that would be necessary to publish well in print.

Since then, I have started, and failed to maintain, three blogs — all focused on one specific topic, one particular aspect of my interests and ideations. The most successful of these was The Activist’s Muse which I published, both regularly and sporadically, for about three years. More recently I published the Whole Happy and Healthy blog, which focused on emotional wellness.

And now, I am going to publish everything in one place — right here! It makes sense to simplify and streamline my work, particularly because I have not succeeded in maintaining my prior blogs as steadfastly as I had aspired. But more importantly, it is also indicative of my maturation and realization that I can and should exist, both offline and on, as a whole person — all of me — rather than sharing one piece here and another, somewhat separate piece there.

This blog will be a place for me to share all of my future writing, that which doesn’t quite fit thematically into other established channels, and that which is personal, unfinished, raw, and unapologetic. I will also use this space to share those polished pieces that appear elsewhere on the net, as well as to update readers on other projects in which I am involved.

Thank you for being here with me, for listening to me, and for sharing this small piece of the planet with me.