Aloneness, Or How I’m Learning to Love Solitude
From the WMFA Podcast with Courtney Balestier
Writing can be lonely work; WMFA counters that with conversation. It’s a show about creativity and craft, where writer and host Courtney Balestier talks shop with some of today’s best writers and examines the issues we face when we do creative work. The mission of WMFA is to explore why we writers do what we do, so that we can do it with more intention, and how we do what we do, so that we can do it better.
Writers should be great at solitude, right? In this week’s minisode of WMFA, host Courtney Balestier talks about how isolation is forcing her to confront that.
From the episode:
Courtney Balestier: I am afraid to be alone with myself. Isn’t that ridiculous? Saying it out loud feels absurd, but it’s true. Often when we talk about fear around writing, we’re talking about external outcomes, fear our work won’t be good, won’t be accepted, or won’t be respected. The fear that’s coming up for me is much deeper. It’s a fear of what I’ll find. Not in a horror movie, “what’s at the end of that dark hall” kind of way, but an existential one. I am also sad, I’m witnessing artists all around the country, all around the world, use their art to process this moment, although that means making and sharing work or just turning to the private comfort of their practices. I am keeping myself from that experience by keeping myself from myself. And that is sad.
I can see in the bizarre light of this our new normal that my writing practice has always been at odds with this desire to avoid myself. Now, I just don’t have a choice. But really, if I want to keep writing, which I do, then I never had a choice. Because writing is most fundamentally about a relationship with oneself. However, and wherever we look into the world for our ideas, ultimately they come out again through our own filters. We are what makes our work hours. So this is how I’m working on my writing right now, by practicing being alone with it, being alone with myself. This is different from being able to focus, which I can’t really to edit to draft new chapters. I’m lowering my expectations, releasing my conceptions of output. If I can sit in a quiet room with my work, I think I might be on my way somewhere.
To listen to the rest of the episode, as well as the whole archive of WMFA, subscribe and listen on iTunes or wherever else you find your favorite podcasts.
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