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For most writers, writing is a solitary pursuit.

As Thomas Mann famously put it,

“A writer is a person for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.”

This makes it difficult for a serious writer to be a sociable creature all the time. Writers tend to close themselves a lot, because they have crazy characters dancing around in their head, sometimes they aren’t sure if their protagonist should kill to live or live to kill…decisions, choices. All the time. Because, a writer’s job, just like a housewife’s, is never done. Some writers wake up in the middle of the night or get late for an appointment because they MUST scribble down that solution, that line, that idea, before it disappears. (I’m one of those.)

The only real sharing of this aspect of their lives is when they meet a like-minded group. And then there are a few lucky people whose family helps them chase their dream, instead of trying to stamp all over it. Writing is a rather useless dream, after all, from the practical, commercial point-of-view. And as writers keep insisting, somebody has to do the impractical, un-commercial things. This is what keeps us human, as a race. These things we do that address the soul.

I’m lucky I’m left alone most of the day, to do with my time as I wish. Write when, how, on what, where–all for me to decide. Luxury, compared to some of my friends who are full-time mothers, office workers, and still produce a book a year. They struggle to find that alone time, when they can write on their own.

Despite having ample alone time, it might be hard to write. But I’ve found that if I’ve something to say, it is important to persist, and sometimes write as if no one would ever read it. As the bestselling author Barbara Kingsolver puts it:

Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder. Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It’s the one and only thing you have to offer.

Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her forthcoming literary crime thriller, The Blue Bar is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency, and will be published by Thomas & Mercer on January 1, 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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2 Comments

  • Damyanti says:

    I know, and sometimes writing that novel nobody has written is the hardest thing to do.

    Thanks for stopping by, despite my rather erratic posting schedule.

  • Writing is a solitary pursuit, but it's something we do for others. The irony isn't lost on me.

    Regarding the Kingsolver quote, someone else (I forget who) once said:

    Imagine the novel you want to read that nobody has written, and then go write it.

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