An Alone Journey

“Anything we fully do is an alone journey”—Natalie Goldberg

My card making “skills” (if I dare use the word skills) are well known among my circle of friends. If my kids are reading this they’re having a good chuckle. The truth is, at a friends urging, I once made a card that shall we say….well, maybe we won’t say.

My oldest daughter wanted me to scan it and send her a copy. Not on your life! I’m sure that scanned imagine would have been plastered all over cyberspace. (I know my kids well!) For some reason I hid the darn thing. I have no idea where. Maybe it ended up being burned in the wood stove although, knowing me, it will resurface at some time or other, and we’ll have another round of laughs over it. I really don’t mind. If we can’t stand to laugh at ourselves once on awhile, then I say we’re too darn serious.

My friends make beautiful homemade cards that are simply gorgeous. It’s a treat just to be able to look at them. I, on the other hand, do not have the inclination to work at and hone my card-making “skills”—there’s that word again. Not to mention the fact that it would be very time consuming, I could never imagine myself sitting around with a group of people crafting homemade cards. I do not particularly like having others watch me while I work. So unless I could go off into a corner some place and hide…..But then, I wouldn’t be able to learn all the ins and outs of card-making, how to use the different gadgets that produce some of the most intricate cards I’ve ever seen. (My friends are really talented.)

In a way this reminds me of Natalie Goldberg’s quote. I do feel as though the time spent on our artistic endeavours is an “alone journey.”

Writing has always felt like such a solitary thing for me, and in many ways it is. Even if we are sharing our work along the way, we are the only ones who can actually write the story. Receiving input from others does not minimize the work that writers have to do all on their own. We are the only ones who can get inside that story and bring it fully to life. People might make suggestions, but in the end we do the work, choose the words, and construct the sentences. We write the story. We take our story on it’s own path, we walk with it, hold its hand and we don’t stop until we reach our final destination, and we do it alone.

I’ve mentioned before that until recently I’d never shared my WIP with anyone. I think it’s wonderful for those writers who have critique partners or writing groups to share their work with and bounce ideas off of. To have such people that you feel comfortable with sounds amazing. They all seem very brave to me. Call me chicken. I’d find that very difficult to do, although I suspect that after that initial plunge it would become easier as time goes on.

For the writers out there, do you agree that writing is an “alone journey?” And do you share your work with others along the way?

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27 Comments

  1. Such a thoughtful post, Laura. Yes, writing is an alone journey alright but sooner or later it needs to be shared. If not, then the person is only writing for themself which is fine.

    Always a scary moment to release your story to others to read. I am lucky to have been in an online crit group for two years now and they are very supportive and encouraging. They don’t sugarcoat it but they don’t rip it to pieces either. I learn a lot from them by critting their work and from their crits of my work.

    I’m sure your card isn’t that bad and it is the thought that counts after all. I love making cards to share and enjoy making them on the computer or by hand. I was really into scrapbooking for a while.

    It also appeals to my sense of cheapness as cards in the store have become so expensive lately. YIKES!

    So that’s all I have to say. Brief as usual, eh?

    Cathy

    Reply
    • Oh Cathy, I always love your comments! You are fortunate to have found an online crit group that you work well with. One thing we don’t need is someone sugar-coating things nor do we want someone who is too critical. There’s a balance, I would suspect.

      Yes Cathy, the card WAS that bad, but it’s brought us plenty of laughter. :)

      Reply
  2. Laura,I’m so glad to hear that someone made the journey successfully alone. I was fortunate to find a few to read my very first horribly crude but complete first draft. Since then and as far as I can see into my future, I will have no one to critique my writing. And I know your novel is good because I’ve read it. Blessings to you, Laura…

    Reply
    • Carol Ann, to be honest I was naive enough to think that most people did write on their own, but as I step our further into the writing world I find this is not the case. But, on the other hand, as you say, it does not mean that we will not be published..Hang in there!

      Reply
  3. I think writing is definitely a lone activity, but that I need the validation of other people’s opinions on my work as I go along…

    Wendy

    Reply
    • I can see where getting others opinions on our work is helpful, especially in the beginning when we are still discovering who we are as writers.

      Reply
  4. I rarely share my work with others. (Usually I don’t even let people read it after it’s done.) My son is the exception–he proofreads my nonfiction sometimes before I submit it.

    Reply
    • Carol, I can most relate to what you say. Most people who know me haven’t read my published works, except for the novel and the pieces that were published in the anthologies. I suspect they haven’t even read the ones linked on my blog to online publications. I find it kind of strange because until the novel came out I figured that most people really didn’t care about what I’d written. It seemed quite trivial in the large scheme of things. Of course if anyone ever asked to read my work I always obliged, but many were just happy to know that I was a writer. But as I said, the book sort of changed all that.

      Reply
  5. syr ruus

     /  October 26, 2010

    Totally alone, never thinking of an audience. When the dance is done,however, sometimes it would be nice if someone said — hey take a look at that!

    Reply
  6. Judi

     /  October 26, 2010

    I bet your card was very unique and one of a kind.

    I find it very relaxing and theraputic, making cards and scrapbooking. The same with quilting, knitting, rug hooking and any other craft I might put my hand too.

    But I can understand why writing would have to be “an alone” thing. Even when I try to write in my journal, I can’t find the words that I would like to express myself. And most of the time I couldn’t spell them anyway. LOL

    Reply
    • Hi Judi, Glad to see you’re still checking in on me and that you’re still doing all your crafty things that you do SO well. I should have scanned a photo of the B’day card you made as an example of what fine card-making is all about.

      Part of the beauty our journals is the fact that no one’s going to know if we can’t spell, and luckily if we go back later to read an entry we’ll know what that misspelled word is.. lol

      Reply
  7. I’m not overly crafty but I like making cards sometimes, and scrapbooking sometimes, even if they results are less than stellar. It’s that personal touch that’s important!

    As far as writing goes, I’m a loner, with a couple exceptions. I don’t share my first draft with anyone, but a later draft usually goes to my DD and a couple beta readers. We all love our “baby” but I know that it’s impossible to be unbiased in my evaluation of it, so I need input before I dare to let it out to play by itself.

    Reply
    • I guess I’m surprised by your comment, Carol. I would have thought you belonged to a crit group of some kind… Guess I don’t feel so bad, now. You’re right, about it being difficult to be unbiased. Sometimes that works the other way though, and after awhile it’s difficult to distinguish if it’s any good because we’ve worked on it for so long.

      Reply
      • I’m a member of a writers’ group but they don’t critique novel-length work. I could submit a 500-word portion if I was needing help with it, but generally we all write something short, written specifically for the meetings. I really need to find a regular crit partner!

        Reply
  8. You know I actually find it scary to think of working without a group now I’ve been with one for a little while. They give me fresh eyes, enable me to see things I don’t think I would without them.

    Writing is something done alone, but the journey of it I like to share. And the learning is shared, for me.

    Reply
    • I can definitely see that a group would be beneficial and once in a group it would feel like a shared journey. Great comment!

      Reply
  9. You already know I share my work. I’m strong at grammar, syntax, and dialogue, but weak at other things, so I welcome the input from my writer friends. They’ve taught me quite a few things I didn’t learn from the writing manuals.

    I write alone; I edit with friends.

    Reply
    • I’m assuming that one needs to work with people whose opinion you trust. Lots of people give opinions on things but it doesn’t necessarily make them right. I was actually going to ask you a question about working with a group that I realize would make a post for later on down the road. lol! So I’ll hold my tongue on the matter for now.

      “I write alone; I edit with friends”–sounds like a perfect combination!

      Reply
  10. When I’ve had a story assigned by an editor, I enjoy working as part of a team, bouncing ideas back and forth and having a great pair of eyes give my work the final polish it needs. When that’s not the case, writing is definitely an “alone journey” for me. I work alone to find the words to sell my client’s services in the same way that I work to find the words to write my novel or short story. With words & characters dancing in my head all the time, the “alone journey” is, thankfully, never lonely.

    Reply
  11. So … if you can’t make the card itself, maybe you can write the words for inside it? – you being a writer after all. ;)

    Someday maybe I will feel as if I am a real writer, maybe .. and then I will probably be an alone writer. When I’m actually creating something (be it with words or something ‘crafty’) I need the aloneness to think in, and dream in, and explore ideas in. Distractions … distract me! :)

    When I write some little story, I usually want someone else’s opinion, often because I like to share what I’ve come up with. I don’t belong to any group, and until this year I, too, thought that writers write alone. A critique group was foreign to me and I still have doubts about ever belonging to one … having other writers reading my stuff and dissecting it? … hmmm Not sure I trust that. So I understand what you are saying, Laura.

    Reply
    • Yes, you’re right, Lynn. I should be able to come up with some sort of suitable sentiment.

      It took me many years before I felt like a real “writer,” too. But once I did, things seem to start happening for me. If you keep writing, keep working at it one day you will have the courage to call yourself a writer, and you WILL mean it.

      Reply
  12. An alone journey definitely! I’ve always felt guilty about not having a critique group or something, but can’t stand the idea. I do let a small circle read my work after it reaches close to final draft — to find inconsistencies, things that might not make sense in the plot, etc.

    Reply
    • Hi Hilary, welcome to my blog, and thanks for your comment. It seems as though I’m finding a few others who do not belong to critique groups. I was starting to think I was about the only one. :)

      Reply
  13. Have to say I’m more of a loner* & rarely share a WIP.

    *My days are always intense – energy sapping so “loner” is a good thing.

    Reply
    • Hey, another loner. This may sound sexist, but I’m wondering if belonging to critique groups are more of a woman thing, than a guy thing. Gee, I may have to blog about that one day!

      Reply

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