Since all writers borrow from their lives to pen their novels, articles, memoirs and stories, emotional support for writers is essential. Yet the habit which writing breeds of doing things alone and by oneself, can be hard to leave behind.
We write, presumably, because we feel compelled to; and presumably also because some part of us enjoys the process or the sense of achievement from the final product and its outcomes.
Yet perhaps, since reading – so often a precursor to taking up the pen – and writing are silent, we writers may well become accustomed to learning, listening and doing by ourselves, quietly. We may not all begin life as rugged individualists, but I suspect that, in order to write, we may also have to cultivate the art of doing many things tolerably well alone. Words on the page are quiet and perhaps we assume we have to be too?
All of which helps to explain how writers can become isolated. And to excuse the fact that, with all that training in aloneness, it can be very difficult to ask for emotional support. Asking for help isn’t easy, though there is little doubt that having practical and emotional support helps us to stay grounded, relaxed and on top of our workload.
Paradoxically, I’m not sure that I would have managed to write or publish what I have, without the demands made on me by others: I must eat, and yet, when I lived alone I rarely made the effort to eat well. I have to sleep, and there is something in the routines of next day, that encourages me more often to go to bed at a reasonable hour. I know that twenty-four-hour days do not suit me, yet when I live alone, I tend towards exciteable neglect.
I do know, that although it has ultimately saved my life, writing my memoir was a long and very difficult thing to do. Ironically, I wrote it and dreamed about it, and lived through the pain of it alone, because I needed to come out of isolation. I am grateful also to remember, now, that when we need help, we can ask for it, and benefit from precious friendships we make along the way.
Thanks for listening.