The Lonely Chaos of Writing

Mark here. I wrote this essay years back. I think the things I said are as true today as then. We all have walls we must climb. I maintain there is NO other profession like writing. None. It is internal and solitary. I mean, even a painter gets to look at a bowl of fruit sometimes.

All we have as writers to comfort us is our imagination.

Anyway,  a couple of friends said it helped them process some difficulties they were experiencing at the time. I reprint it here in the hope it may help someone else who is struggling with some aspect of writing, or anything else in life.


I know your life is chaos right now.  I know that and you know that.Writing takes and takes...we give all.

But sometimes you have to be a right bastard if you ever want to write. Sometimes you have to shove other people out of the way and make room for yourself so you can write.  It’s not a nice thing to think about.  I know that.  But no one else can write for you. You have to do it yourself because you are a writer.  Don’t forget that.

You see, writing isn’t like any other thing.  It’s completely you, no one else.  Therefore, since that’s true, sometimes you must push people aside, even those you love, to make the room you need so you can write.  Yeah.  It’s very selfish.  But writing demands selfishness.  It doesn’t allow anything else to impinge upon the freedom it wants to have in our minds, and its desire to express itself on paper because writing is even more selfish than we are.

Writing will NEVER be loyal to you.  The only loyalty will be what you have for your writing.

Like I said, writing is very selfish.  It has to be or you’re really not writing.  In the words of Truman Capote, you’re “typing.”

You have to get that straight in your mind.  Listen, it’s not your talent, it’s not your ideas, it’s not your perception that you have to overcome. It’s YOU.  You have to overcome you so your writing can prevail.  In a word: you must submit.

Writing isn’t happy with second place, either.  It demands it be first in your heart and mind and soul.  Writing isn’t interested in being best friends. It wants to be all.  You have to make that commitment.  You have to move beyond the point where writing is a game. It has to become your breath.  Your living breath.

Speaking for myself, I don’t see that in everyone who says they want to be a writer. But I see it in some people and they got me to thinking about it yesterday.  You have to plant your flag and say, “Okay, I’m in all the way” and then go down with the ship if that’s what’s called for.  Because writing doesn’t make any promises, either.  There are no guarantees and there never will be.  Writing doesn’t meet you half way.  You have to climb Mt. Everest and then jump a little higher and you still might fail.

Writing gives nothing. It only takes.  As a writer, you have to give and give.

And that’s what writing is all about, Charlie Brown.  I think you can do it, and I think you need to do it,  and I will always be there for you.  But even so all I can do is show you the landscape.

You have to go into it alone.  And once you’re there, never turn back.

6 Replies to “The Lonely Chaos of Writing”

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