This is the second 2016 post in my ongoing series entitled, “Reflections On Being A Writer
In The 21st Century”. Other posts in this series are available on my Pulse archive page:
You can spot them by the banner pic, which is the same the one you see above.
In the sauna in my basement, I have a rather large, rather irregular pile of paper. There are probably about 800 pages. These pages are irregular because they have spent much of the last 20 years in one sauna or another, in one house or another.
They are as wrinkled as a bunch of 100 year old men.
These pages contain the early years of my personal history as a writer. This is not to be confused with my professional history, which is all upstairs neatly filed into sections, on video tape, DVD and a 500 gig Lacie hard drive.
No… these are mostly poems. And if you were to be able to order them chronologically, they become a bit of history of my evolution from a writer of short blank verse to a writer of rhyming verse to a writer of stream- of-consciousness narratives that would sometimes go on for several pages, all single spaced and all reflective of my headspace at the time.
Then, finally, they would take you to a writer of fully realized pieces that eventually turned into lyrics and and a few short stories with titles like: The Avon Lady Always Rings Twice, A Chick For Jesus, and Al The Beaver & Kilgore Trout.
As I taught myself to write, I spent a great deal of time alone.
Anyone who has chosen to be a writer will tell you more or less the same thing. Solitude comes with the territory. And it’s the ability to be alone and focused for long periods of time that is actually, besides some sort on innate affinity to writing as a craft, an essential writer’s character trait.
You hear a lot of stories about the gregariousness of many famous writers, but what you don’t hear are stories about the endless hours they spent hunched over some writing apparatus cranking out the stuff that made them famous.
One could argue that writing is a lonely profession. But that’s only a perception held by people who don’t actually write. Most writers that I know love the idea and the reality of being alone with their thoughts.
They love the gestalt of laying their thoughts out and ultimately ending up with something that other people might call poetry or literature or even art.
There is no loneliness involved in being alone for a writer. I spend a lot of my time that way and I can tell you it’s quite pleasant.
I’m not always alone though. In the business I am in, which is communications, there is always an email to answer, a proposal to put together, creative work to do, people to talk to…the list goes on from the beginning to the end of the day.
Most days I don’t notice the time. It just goes. I do try and figure out when the middle of the day is so I can get out and ride my bike, pick up stuff for dinner and basically get a break. But even those pursuits are kind of solitary unless you count my interaction with supermarket cashiers. Mostly I just grunt.
There are days when I will spend two or three hours having a coffee with someone who either needs me to do something or vice versa. But for the most part, it’s just me, myself and I, until my wife shows up at the end of the day.
But, beside the time I spend with my wife and family, the time I value the most is right now. From about 10:30 PM to about 1:00 AM. The world is very quiet at this time of night. And so is the jingle jangle rhythm of my working life. This is my personal time. And I love it.
The pile of poetry and other stuff in my sauna is a huge challenge to me. Slowly, I have been digitizing it. But for some strange reason I can’t seem to let go of the paper.
Maybe it’s because that paper ties me back to my roots. To the time when idea were cascading at a sometimes alarming rate and I was just scrambling to get them all down, afraid that if I didn’t they would somehow desert me forever.
But as Bob Dylan said: “I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now.” I’m also more methodical and more selective. I still get tons of ideas, but I am no longer afraid of them. I edit them in my head and take only the best to commit to whatever this is called…digitization, I suppose.
Hardly anything we do these days is on paper, but most of us can remember when paper was the medium that carried any number of messages. It really wasn’t that long ago.
Tonight, I’m sitting here with a beautiful piece of industrial art called the MacBook Pro. My whole personal and commercial life is in there and on the large thumb drive that is velcroed to the outer shell.
It’s a long way from where I started, back with Smith Corona portable, and all that paper.
But honestly, nowhere along that road was there ever any loneliness. Not even close.
Which makes the title of this piece ironic. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
I am what’s known, in today’s world, as a Content Navigator. Through my own core skills as a strategist, writer & art director and with the help of a select group of insanely talented associates, I work with primarily B to B clients, large and small to create smart communications in whatever sector of the marketing universe their strategy dictates the need to travel through. I am also a mentor, blog post editor and a pretty decent photographer.
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