Celebrate the Independence Being a Writer Affords


39748629_sAs we join together in the United States to celebrate Independence Day, July 4th, it occurred to me that writing offers a certain level of independence.

Independence from:

  • A boring corporate job
  • A same ol’ same ol’ town
  • A safe and predictable existence

Like actors, writers are able to put on the hat of a different character, in a different world, with a different life and escape from the safe and normal.

Housewives, accountants, educators, corporate professionals and more can benefit from the independence that writing offers.

So whether you have finished and self-published that Great American Novel or you are still putting on the finishing touches or haven’t even started to bring the characters to life on paper; let’s celebrate together.

In an article entitled Writing and the Solitary life, the author shares this snippet from an interview with acclaimed novelist Marilynne Robinson

…I’m kind of a solitary. This would not satisfy everyone’s hopes, but for me it’s a lovely thing. I recognize the satisfactions of a more socially enmeshed existence than I cultivate, but I go days without hearing another human voice and never notice it. I never fear it. The only thing I fear is the intensity of my attachment to it. It’s a predisposition in my family. My brother is a solitary. My mother is a solitary. I grew up with the confidence that the greatest privilege was to be alone and have all the time you wanted. That was the cream of existence. I owe everything that I have done to the fact that I am very much at ease being alone. It’s a good predisposition in a writer…

Writing offers us the opportunity to explore parts of our personality we might prefer were hidden from our friends and family. Are you normally quiet and reserved? Writing allows you to explore the loud and bawdy side you would never dream of displaying at home.

Do people describe you as nice, safe, and responsible? I am reminded of a character in an Anne Tyler book, The Ladder of Years in which the main character literally walks out of her life to start over. She recreates herself into someone unlike her previous self. As a writer, we have the freedom to commit that same act on paper without actually leaving home. How freeing!

And the anonymity of such a move is another kind of independence. Do you remember the movie with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Leigh Curtis called True Lies? It is the classic story of a “salesman” who lives the responsible life only to be discovered to be an undercover spy.

I have to be honest, that is appealing.  Writing provides the independence to act out these interesting alternate lives.

Consider, for a moment, the story you are currently working on, or perhaps one you’ve just self-published. Take a character from the story and add a twist – just for fun.

  • If your main character would suddenly transform into a wolf, how would that affect the story?
  • If the location were moved from a suburban community to a burned out, abandoned warehouse, how would the characters react?

Writing gives us the chance to explore these new elements without judgement (unless we start sharing and asking for a critique) or recrimination.

Writing also offers the gift of healing; an independence from pain. In the new television show, The Astronaut Wives Club, one of the wives has kept a secret from her friends which had a life altering effect on her life. She makes a statement to the press, in the most recent episode, that leads the world to believe she is a person who doesn’t pray. Needless to say, in a show that takes place in the 1950s, this is like the kiss of death.

She longs to tell her story; not have it smoothed over by publicists. It is through the process of writing an open letter which appears in Life magazine, she shares the heart ache she and her husband experienced due to the untimely death of their six month old son. For her, the writing is cathartic.

If you really want to be independent from your writing, you can also use a pseudonym or boldly write anonymously.  In the article By Anonymous: Can a Writer Escape Vulnerability?, by Maria Bustillos, she examines the writer who chooses to write anonymously:

One kind of writer, at least, is immune to the lure of fame: the anonymous writer. No name, no literary glory. What would possess someone to go to all the trouble of writing a book and then take no credit for having done so? What compulsion drives this strangest of artists?

Anonymous is more than a pseudonym. It is a stark declaration of intent: a wall explicitly thrown up, not only between writer and reader, but between the writer’s work and his life. His book is one thing and his “real” life another, and the latter is entirely off limits, not only to you, the reader, but presumably to almost everybody. Sometimes he has written about something too intimate, too scary, too real, for him to bear public scrutiny. Once the connection is known, what he has written will mark his ordinary life ineradicably.

Talk about being independent!

Whether you hope to be a self-published author or just enjoy writing; let’s celebrate the independence and freedom that writing gives us.

At the same time; let’s join together to celebrate with our United States writing friends, the independence of America. Happy 4th of July!