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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. 


Saket Suryesh said…
Thanks a lot for taking time
Annora Eksteen said…
Hi Saket
I enjoyed reading this article on writing and the solitude a writer-artist holds dear - for reflection. It was just what I needed to put me in a tranquil space this weekend to rest and think, look at the sunrises and sunsets over the lovely mountain and to practice my words that I've written, because I'm now working on telling and singing a story of a lost child in a production - off by heart and in both Afrikaans and English. So it will be two productions.
I reread your thoughts often and find your wise words an inspiration. Where can I order your book? I am in Cape Town, South Africa.
All the best
(It is so true of the streams on social media platforms - there today, gone tomorrow. A waste of time? No, it is good to read about the peoples' happiness and sorrow. But.)
Saket Suryesh said…
Hi Annora

Many thanks for taking time to visit the blog and sharing the comment. The book you are writing sounds interesting. Who is the publisher? My book is on You can get both paperback or kindle version there. All the best for your book. Do let me know how it flows.

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