The Lonely Way of the Writer

I have a confession to make. I often suffer from periods of sorrow and loneliness so profound that I feel as though one little tap in the wrong place would shatter me to pieces so small that no one would be able to put them together again. Some of this comes from the hours I keep at work and the lack of a really good night’s sleep. Some of it comes from the trials I face and my lack of fortitude to face them with true courage and faith. Still a good portion comes because, as a writer, I choose to accept these periods of pain as a part of the madness that stirs the words within me and pushes them out onto a page.

As I write this, I freely acknowledge that even now I’m using my writing skills to take a mundane part of my human condition and turn into something nobler than it is. After all, who wants to live with a melancholy writer all the time? Certainly not my wife and kids. As a Christian, I should also be seeking the delightful above the despair, the passion above the pit. But, there is something about this lonely path that is mine alone to walk that seems to give impetus and direction to the things I write. There is something powerful about taking the messy little struggles of life and using them as a mini cosmic chaos into which I speak life, call forth poetry and prose and pronounce it all good.

I suspect that I’m not alone in my loneliness either. I’m sure that this sadness is a chief characteristic of almost every artist and, as such, is a gift from God. It’s a gift because it allows us to gaze deeply within our hearts to those places most people are too afraid to look. As it beats at our hearts, it cracks the shell of our understanding and allows the beauty of God’s grace to break the spell of pain and despair, creating fertile ground upon which we may plant the seeds of our next work of writing and nurture those words into a beautiful story or poem. It allows us not only to look into the gloom with open eyes, but to see the God of heaven who is light within that darkness. It points us to the love that allowed a Son to die for our every fault, and joins us to Him who rose from the darkness of death and ascended to the heavenly places to experience the joy of redeeming the world. As writers, we take that experience and turn it into hope on the printed page. That kind of power is humbling but it’s also glorious, and makes all the trials worthwhile!

I’ve read a lot of writing of late that is dark and edgy, obtuse and disordered, and I admit that I’m often fascinated with the places to which it often takes me. But so many times, I find I need to climb out of those places because, while the words are interesting, they fall short of the real purpose of writing. Some would argue that if the writing has taken me to a dark place and forced me for a while to sit and suffer, then the purpose has been fulfilled. But having seen the heights to which writing has taken me, I find I must refuse to remain in the shadows of confusion and darker emotions and continue to soar above where the light is warm upon my face. The suffering we experience is only the thing that points us to something more, and our writing should follow the heavenly call and raise the reader out of deep despair, and the dull routine of everyday existence. That way, the beauty and purpose of the trials we endure can find fulfillment and lead us to new vistas and heavenly horizons.

God help me if I remain in the places my sorrow tries to take me. Lord, forgive me for lingering there too long when I go. I appreciate the lonely place inside my soul, and am content to embrace the darkness, so long as it leads me once more into the light where I’m joined to truth and beauty and all that is good. God bless all those writers out there who understand the lonely life and the profound joy to which each depression can lead us if we take the time to push through the darkness to see that true purpose to which our artist’s hearts have been fashioned. May you embrace the sadness only long enough to let it raise you from your corner to your keyboard, where your next great work of art is waiting to be composed!