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A Not So Lonely Path

February 24, 2018


We writers often talk about what a lonely path we travel, but is it? Are we really alone with our keyboards and our blank screens? Well … yes … and no.

It’s true we spend a lot of time staring at a blank computer screen, but we have the company of the voices in our heads – voices that sometimes refuse to speak to us. That’s when we feel truly alone. Not just alone, but abandoned. It’s not that the voices have gone. We know they’re there, a knowledge that makes their silence ominous. Have we done something to offend them? A terrifying thought. Even more frightening: will they come back? “Yes,” we assure ourselves. “They will. They must!” For without them, we cannot write. Nothing can come from a vacuum.

Then, there are times when the voices speak, but they say something we don’t want to hear. Should we listen to them? Do we have a choice? I think not. There have been instances when I tried to ignore a character who told me I’d never do that!  Big mistake! Characters have a way of developing beyond their creator’s plan. They stretch the imagination in unexpected ways. Sometimes one of the voices in my head shouts: Oh, come on! Challenge me. Give me a chance to grow! The longer I write, the more I’ve come to understand that when I allow my characters to step out on their own, that’s what happens: they grow. And when they grow, I grow.

For me, the most delightful part of writing is when a character surprises me. I’m talking about those rare flashes of inspiration when a voice bypasses thought process and takes off on its own. I’ve learned not to argue. I let my fingers fly, not sure where the voice will lead, but eager to find out. Rare is the word I used to describe that sensation. And rare it is. But so satisfying. It’s that top-of-the-mountain feeling that makes the loneliness worthwhile.

Ironically, humans being by nature social creatures, we can’t wait to share what we’ve conceived in loneliness. With whom? A reader, of course. The prospect of someone reading our words is the ultimate fortress against loneliness.



4 Comments leave one →
  1. February 24, 2018 12:56 PM

    Yes, our characters do make great companions, but I also have to add other authors as our companions. I’ve been in this business a long time and it’s so heartwarming to see our friends at conferences or to simply talk with them on emails. Our fellow authors understand the way we feel! Great post. Now, I hope my character I’m working on will speak to me today.

    • February 24, 2018 4:04 PM

      That is so true, Fran. There have been times when I’ve been discouraged and wondering if I should quit. It has always been friends from the writing community who shored me up. Writers are the most generous friends you can have. Thanks for being a friend to me – and for stopping by.

  2. March 12, 2018 9:34 PM

    Hi Sandra,

    You won the $5 Amazon gift card from among those who commented on my blog, Platform Number 4, in February. I tried making contact at your email address, but you possibly missed my message. Please let me know if the Verizon address is still the one where I should have it sent.

    Becky Michael

    • March 13, 2018 7:17 AM

      I feel pretty dumb. Obviously, too many irons in the fire. I sent you an email -with my thanks. I’ll have to check out your blog again.

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