Wednesday, 28 October 2015

The Loneliness of the Writer

It’s something writers like to moan about. Personally I’ve always regarded it — I prefer to call it solitude — as one of the profession’s great attractions.

Anyway it doesn’t have to be like that: once one has actually had a book or two published, I mean professionally as opposed to mere paid-for vanity publishing, (though now that writers have at last realized that most publishers are lazy greedy parasites, the line between self-publishing and vanity-publishing is vague), and belongs to a professional organization (a trade union, in fact) like the Society of Authors, all sorts of perks, with associated non-compulsory social contact with other writers, become available, and one can find out about them simply by looking in ‘The Author’ or one or two literary periodicals. (one doesn’t have to engage with such idiotic nonsense as Facebook or Twitter.)

As an extremely minor writer whom no-one has heard of, I have had —usually free or cheap — stays, usually of a month or more, at, among other places: the Neuschwanstein-like Hawthornden Castle, near Edinburgh. The lakeside campus of the University of East Anglia. Tyrone Guthrie’s big country house near Monaghan. The old British Admiralty building in Rhodes. An upper-middle-class big house with huge garden in Reigate. Then there have been the weekend conferences, among them a long weekend in Athens, which included a one-day cruise around the nearer islands, complete with a quite ghastly orchestra — a cross between Mariachi and Bouzouki band — for the fat wives of publishers (and the wives of fat publishers) to dance to.

And all the above free or nearly so, and with the socializing entirely optional, and no-one thinking any the worse of you if you decided to hide in your room, or the library, and actually do some writing.

So, writers, stop bitching about the loneliness of your sullen craft and art, and get applying. You have nothing to lose except your gloom.
This is Hawthornden Castle.

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