From Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, by Winifred Watson:
‘ In my life,” said Miss Pettigrew, ‘ a great many unpleasant things have happened. I hope they never happen to you. I don’t think they will because you’re not afraid like me. But there’s one thing I found fatal: pitying myself. It made things worse. ‘
Styles change. The above paragraph, typed just as it is in the book reprinted from 1938, shows the punctuation and spacing style of its day. People and truth, however, never change. Self-pity truly is never any help. In fact, self-pity harms. Self-pity is poison to the soul and body. Do not indulge one sip.
From Living the Writer’s Life, by Eric Maisel, Ph.D.:
“To say that a writer is basically introspective or that she requires solitude in order to think her thoughts hardly catches the flavor of her riotous inner life. What defines the writer more than anything else is her rich, roiling, sometimes light but often dark inner busyness, a busyness made up of daydreams, worries, thought fragments, and elaborated thoughts, an inner reality filled with the music she has heard and still dwells upon, the sights she has seen and still dwells upon, the sentences that form and dissolve and form again, finally becoming the opening paragraph of a book she had no idea she was intending to write.”
I am playing fast and loose with copyright by posting such a long excerpt, however, love and admiration compels me to share. Maisel writes such a long, glorious running sentence, and he isn’t even Southern. He describes the rich inner life exactly. I am reminded of the answer Winifred Watson gave when asked why she had given up writing. She replied more or less: “One cannot write when one is never alone.”
The first thing I had to do when I was faced with not being alone enough for me to write was to quit complaining and fuming in self-pity. Only when I could turn my attention from fussing and fuming, could I see myself clearly; my need of solitude as much as I need air, as well as the reality that I wasn’t getting much of it. I was suffocating. From seeing reality, I could find a way to gather and protect as much solitude for myself as possible. It is awareness of reality, then acceptance of reality, and then action to change what can be changed. Just about anything can be changed, if only our attitude. And attitude changes everything.
These days I guard my solitude, because it is my life.
We writers have busy minds, and we can have a lot of fun in there, if we want to.
6 thoughts on “Gleanings, self-pity and solitude”
I absolutely agree. I can’t focus on doing anything when the TV is going and there are other noisy distractions. xo Laura
I just happen to have told a blogger the same thing. Turn off the TV. You need solitude to sort your thoughts to write.
Amen, Brenda. I need much solitude to live happily.
Here is slightly humorous take on the subject of self-pity that w might all do well to remember. It comes from Debbie Macomber’s Mrs. Miracle. “It’s all right to sit on your pity pot every now and again. Just remember to flush when you’re finished.”
Kathie, priceless! Thanks for sharing. We must have pity on ourselves from time to time. But never sit and hold it. 🙂