Posts Tagged ‘Robinson Jeffers’

Solitude: Grace and Space to Create

Between the party animal and the recluse lies the writer.  Both ends of the socialization meter, of course, are extremes with the writer’s need for solitude somewhere left of center, tilting more rather than less towards the solitude end, while still retaining the need to emerge from the cave of self from time to time to socialize, to rejuvenate and to satisfy an equally important urge to observe the human carnival. When writers do not have enough of solitude, they lament its absence.

So it is that Virginia Woolf found that room of her own, that Robinson Jeffers built that stone house by the Pacific Ocean, that Thoreau went off to Walden Pond, and so many other writers have retreated to that studio over the garage to be alone with their thoughts and to write. The virtues of solitude are many. The anchorite’s spiritual quest often led into the desert where in isolation he not only experienced divinity but also his own soul. In seeking to be alone, a writer also desires to commune with his authentic self. By reaching into his thoughts and deepest beliefs, removed from the noise of the crowd, he dredges forth the truth of his experience and of his intuitive knowing. The writing issues from this wellspring.

Solitude is a beatitude, carrying none of the negative connotations of loneliness, depressive isolation or unhealthy self-absorption. Solitude is a state of reflection that results in peace, joy, and contentment.  The space where the writer retreats to create is merely the physical aspect of solitude; the spiritual side is the grace that solitude bestows, grace in the sense of a spiritual gift or favor whereby those wellsprings of inspiration can be tapped. Then the writing becomes a labor of love.

Each writer has to carve out the time and find that private space where the grace to write engulfs like a warm sea.  The longest I have been able to maintain this solitary writing state is a few hours. Then I must get up, walk around, do something else for a while.  The writing life does not demand all or nothing–just a slice of your life. Those who are faithful to that call to solitude will finish their novel, memoir, short story, or whatever book they have inside.  Solitude is so important to creativity that unless a writer is at home in that solitary space “the would-be writer” will not progress beyond “the wannabe.”

But it is not only artists or writers who need solitude. Time alone is essential to personal growth and development.  Everyday living assaults our minds, bombarding us with sounds. We cannot be alone with our thoughts in a waiting room without a television turned on. Our psychic well-being demands down-time from the surround-sound. Writers need a heavier dose. If you want to look more closely at how solitude benefits everyone, not just artists, read Solitude: A Return to Self by Anthony Storr.

Where and when do you find solitude?