Skip to main content

The Necessity of Solitude in a Writer's Life


Solitude is an essential part of writing life. Writing is a lonely profession. One ought to step on this path if one is able to survive through the long, voluntary spells of solitude. We must not confuse loneliness with solitude. Loneliness throws one down the dark abyss; solitude is the pair of wings that intellect provides to lift the soul out of those depths. 

The best of the art emerges out of a certain tranquility of mind, a quietude of being. It borrows wisdom from market-places, it derives truth from the people, but the truth which is visible to the writer, is often not visible to the very people from whose life he derives and distills it. What separates the characters of a story and its writer is the ability of the writer to pull himself back from life, to stand away and apart, to have a distinct vantage points, to watch it with an odd sense of detached empathy. The difference in this vantage point, from one writer to another is the reason stories written about the same things often carry different meaning. The vantage point that a writer creates for himself with respect to an event, an incident or even a life is unique to the writer. 

It is very important for the writer to pull himself or herself away, to immerse in solitude. To let the agitated waves which surrounds him, which torments his overly sensitive soul, takes time to settle down and give way to a truth which come from within the writer but is beyond the writer. Only such writing will survive the writer beyond his being. It is such literature which creates a legacy. Kafka explains this process of settling down and the emergence of the profound magic well when he writes-

"Remain sitting at your table and listen. You need not even listen, simply wait. Just learn to become quiet, and still, and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked. It has no choice; it will roll in ecstasy at your feet."

If one reads classics, the most amazing aspect about them is their unhurried nature. They are written with a definite slowness of pace, even when they run, they never lose their beauty; they never gasp for breath. When they pace, they pace at a speed which comes naturally to them as if they want the reader to run along with them. The do not run because they know where they want to reach, the writer is often in search of the end as much as the reader. Only he knows the path, the next step, but never the destination. There is a great sense of companionship a writer establishes with the reader when he writes thus. 

Good writing is not always about talent. It is as much about honesty of the soul. This honesty unravels itself in our moments of solitude, the moments when we unlearn all that our years in society has taught us. Great literature happens when we are able to escape our education. Goethe says- 

"Talent is nurtured in solitude. A creation of importance can only be produced when its author isolates himself. It is a child of solitude." 

It is some sort of meditation in the midst of madness which the author needs to get into. To sit down and think, not to judge, not to evaluate, merely to observe; And the noises settle down, words mellow into whispers; And then, slowly the truth begins to open itself like the petals of a lotus opening up to the morning sun. 

We live in an extremely commercialized world. Whenever, Money rules the roost, art is the casualty. We have little time. When we try to do things in a hurry, we fall back on rules. Rules are always binding and in the long run, suffocating, if you are on an artistic pursuit. We all write to be read. Rules tell us that to be read, you need to market your art, hawk your wares. Fine rule, but then market is a crafty criminal. Commerce enters your writing place as a guest, apologetic and awkward and then in no time, throws art out. 

Social media nibbles first at the edges of your artistic solitude, then suddenly grows into a green dragon which engulfs you along with your pen. The currents of social media are strong and unforgiving and to stay afloat is constant struggle. We create platform, write about writing. We need to come out, catch breath. Trust me, in an ocean of opinion, no one notices when you go missing. It is important to go missing some times. Those who come looking will be worth the keeps, regarding the rest, well, find solace in the fact that Social in social media is misleading. Most writers enter in the Social media to create a platform, to have followers who would hopefully become his readers, propagate his thoughts and ideas. But the deluge quickly overwhelms, one is left chasing the waves. If there is no writing, what is the point? Writing about writing is not writing. It is pretense of writing. 

Rilke wrote-

"Come to completion, entirely in itself, in the dark, in the unsayable, the uncommon beyond the reach of one's own understanding, and with deep humility and patience, wait for the hour when a new clarity is born."

Do not be perturbed with the writings which hound the public space. Not very uncommon to find the top ten books these days largely occupied with celebrity writing, nudging all the literary writing to shelves in the corner of the bookstore, away from the eyes of casual visitor. Don't be discouraged, Schopenhauer sold 32 copies of his first book, but his writings still show path to many today. Don't go broader, go deeper into your soul. Do not offer a story to your reader, offer your soul to your reader. That is how a life-long romance begins- a romance which travels from one generation of readers to another, from one century to another. A decade from now, a century from now, cerebral writing will survive, will hang on the dark nights like the northern star, showing way to those struggling through their own darkness. That my friends, is purpose of art. 
4 comments

Popular posts from this blog

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man- James Joyce- Book Review

Amazon Link 
Some books are an act of education; they cannot be read in haste, cannot be understood in one read. James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man gives one such feeling.
It is a coming of age story of Stephen Dedalus. Nothing extraordinary about that. But then there a rich, slowly flowing lost river of philosophy which moves beneath the surface, turning an ordinary story of a boy growing up, encountering questions about faith, religion and sex, into an exceptional, extraordinary and engaging story. The story moves along the timeline, much in the manner of Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse, where the writer is seemingly a passive narrator. Further, while this book is more of a philosophical essay wrapped around a story, Ms. Woolf’s book, on the other hand, is rather a Story primarily, with a philosophical touch. This book is blatantly philosophical, dwelling into the dangerous territory of religion and how a growing mind looks at God. It begins with his school, whe…

Bahubali 2- The Conclusion- Movie Review

We are living in an extremely cause-heavy world where causes - real and imagined cloud our minds. I saw this in the case of the movie - Beauty and The Beast. There the quarrel of the social commentators was that it explored the gay angle of one of the characters only briefly, only fleetingly. There can be nothing more absurd than that. You are demanding more from an artist than possibly he can offer. Art is a profession of lonely persuasion, and it serves the purpose its creator desires it to serve. Nothing more and nothing less. It is sad and unfortunates that the liberals, which in Indian context largely translates to Leftists, insists that art is nothing but a vehicle that should be provided to them for their political agendas and narratives to ride on. It is like insisting that the reference to the Negroes in the "The Great Gatsby" should have been expanded to cover racism in detail. The brief episode was merely to substantiate the character and nothing more. Just as cre…

Resurrecting Hinduism- Without Embarrassment

I have been pondering about the sense of despondency, the sense of shame which has been imposed on the Hindu thoughts in Indian society. Every act of faith has to be explained, justified. When partition happened, Muslims fought and obtained an independent Nation, while the other large chunk of population, which, in spite of numerical supremacy, was subjugated for centuries, got India. In line with inherent openness and flexibility of Hinduism, India became a secular nation. This is a matter of pride, since it acknowledged the basic secular nature of Sanatan Dharm. However, as things would evolve, vested political interests considered India as unfinished agenda standing in the path of a religious empire being built world-wide. Through a well-calculated intellectual conspiracy of neglect and vilification, it came to a stage that modern Hindus where embarrassed of their religion and apologetic of their faith. This neglect also resulted in the religion being left to the guardianship of un…