A Fellowship of One

“So comes snow after fire.” J.R.R. Tolkien wrote this at the end of The Hobbit. It seems fitting today.

A dark cloud battled inside of me yesterday. Some days my sensitivity stays under the surface, bashing against my soul like tectonic plates wanting me to quake.

Okay, so I just wrote that last paragraph quickly, and rereading it makes it sound like I’m trying to be all literary with alliteration. I’m not. Suffice to say, yesterday sucked.

I won’t go into details, because this is absolutely not the place to wallow in self-pity or to spew out annoyances. But sometimes, I really wish I had some fellow artists to commiserate with. Not online, where you receive ten words of encouragement from strangers. Those are meaningful, but there are times you need someone to listen to a half hour of your ranting. That’s all. Then to not try to fix anything, nor offer any advice since sometimes there is no advice to be found.

Sometimes, you simply need someone to listen and know the frustrations you have as a writer making a living writing.

hemingway-cuba“Writing, at its best, is a lonely life.” Ernest Hemingway said this. It’s very true. And this is coming from a man who became a celebrity, who became legendary. That doesn’t matter, because you can’t bring friends and fame to your job as a writer. Ultimately there is only one person sitting there facing the page and filling it with words.

Every sentence is a decision. Every paragraph a choice. Every chapter a direction.

Some decisions could be better. Some choices become regrettable. And some directions are headed in the wrong way.

My job over the last decade of co-writing and ghostwriting hasn’t been to construct brilliant prose or to create moving metaphors. My key role, as I’ve always seen it, has been to finish projects. To come alongside someone and help them put their ideas and stories onto the page. Most of the time, the difficulty is getting to the finish line on time.

Some books become battles of endurance, where some basic things need to be abandoned to simple finish. And most of the time, nobody will know how painful the journey can be. The few tied together to the project are usually too busy and too burdened by the load they’re carrying. So then, when the book is finally released, I hear a vast and inexplicable silence.

Sometimes, the silence can lacerate your soul.

Yesterday, I took my anger and frustration to the bookstore. I went there to prove a point, to never forget this day. To accentuate the pain.

It’s always a strange thing to buy a book you wrote. Even stranger is when you’re seeing it for the very first time in a bookstore, and you’re paying for it because you don’t have a copy.

The silence has become the norm, but still . . . Every now and then, I’d love to get some little bit of appreciation. My love language is words of affirmation, and I live in a silent world where the only words I hear are my own.

Ah, yes, the self-pity. I apologize. I am very, very, very blessed. God has given me so much. So I must stop this.

There are things I sign up for where I know the drill. This is part of the deal. This is the price you have to pay. You don’t do these sorts of things for praise. You deliberately stand out of the spotlight. Your place is in the shadows, in the silence, working alone.

90“So comes snow after fire,” J.R.R. Tolkien wrote, “and even dragons have their endings.”

Yes, they most certainly do.

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