“Dreams are illustrations…from the book your soul is writing about you.” Marsha Norman

10614259_10152686201461823_7648764409462098800_nI had the weirdest dream last night. (How many times have you said or heard that?)  Well, I did. I dreamed I was riding in a box down a river, but the river was moving dirt. So I got stuck.  (Don’t have to be a rocket scientist to get a sense of what’s going on here). But the clouds were changing into awesome colors, teal, oranges, pinks, golds, as if someone was painting them as I was watching them, like on a canvas. I didn’t know if it was sunrise or sunset colors, or a fantasy world. I woke up as the clouds were changing, but could hear the ca-ching of an old-fashioned cash register. Remember them? You actually had to push buttons in order to have the numbers register. Something like this, but newer-it was the one from Path Mark, a grocery store I worked in during high school.antique-cash-register-jpeg

As a therapist, I did a lot of dream analysis. I do believe like Marsha Norman, that the dream is the window of the soul, not the eyes, unfolding you. I usually did Gestalt Therapy. I used this therapy in the dream analysis in Moloch and the Angel , my mystery/thriller. It’s based on a simple philosophy: Fill your emotional voids so that you can then become a unified whole. Perls believed that dreams contained the rejected, disowned parts of the Self. Every character and every object in a dream represented an aspect of that Self. Ask questions of every object in the dream, take on the role of that object, and a person could very well uncover buried emotions and acknowledge what was missing in their lives. Dreams breathe life into consciousness. So I talk to different aspects of my dream. The me in my dreams are the dullest–so covered with defenses. I talked to the cash register, asked why it was there and what did it want. Most importantly, what did they think was I doing there? Same with the clouds, and the dirt and the wooden box–holding me from drowning in crap. This type of analysis is informative, and it’s fun–usually very revealing. It was the changing colors in the clouds that revealed the most. I had to talk to each color. Teal is my color, so the mixing with the other colors became the focus point of the questions. I don’t like the color pink, although I didn’t realize that color would represent all I didn’t want to do, and the people, I didn’t want to be with, and how I thought the interaction with the other colors would yield me nothing. Ca-hing, the draw opens and it’s empty.

The dream illuminated for me the desire to go back into my cave and stop doing so much work with so many people–definitely dragging me through the mud. But then again, I’m sure other interpretations  can be reached through other types of analysis. But it felt good, and it felt right, so my soul keeps writing …


The League of American Pen Women first place winner: me

pen-womenLarry Gill of the Lorin Tarr Gill Foundation (Hawaii) was present to hand out the awards for the winners of the Pen Women Writing Competition. I won first place in the non-fiction category for my memoir “Grandpa Hoeler and the Race Riots.”

certificate Seventy-two people were present at the luncheon for the awards ceremony.

Without further adieu: I present the winning piece:

“Grandpa Hoeler and the Race Riots”

          Grandpa Hoeler built most of the houses in the neighborhood where he and my grandmother lived. He was as rooted to his land as the pole on which he raised the flag every morning and from which he removed the flag every night, no matter how big a storm raged throughout the day. He shuffled his eighty-five-year-old feet in tiny steps to the old oak chair planted on the landing. Gray-and-white suspenders held up his gray flannel slacks, which crumpled up his bleached white cotton shirt.

I would barge through the side entrance of the house, barrel up the five steps, and notice the faraway gaze in his intense blue eyes, yelling my hello as I dashed left toward the kitchen.

His straight gray hair, with a few wisps of black, would dip onto his face as he stopped me. “Hey, kid, get me a beer.”

It was our ritual hello. He wanted me to run back down the five steps to the door, and then another five to the basement refrigerator. My grandmother placed the beer there so he would have to shuffle his way down the two flights of steps to the damp, dark coal cellar. I would sometimes find him sitting down there alone in the darkness and wonder what he was thinking.

Sometimes I would say, “No.”

He’d mutter something , then yell, “You damn fresh kid, now go down there and get me a beer.”

Most times I would. I loved my grandfather, even though he and my grandmother, true Germans, showed little affection.

I guess I realized he was my hero when I was eleven, in 1964. That was the year before a white policeman shot Lester Long, a twenty-two-year-old unarmed African- American, to death during a drug search. It was two years before National Guard tanks rolled through the Central Ward of Newark, New Jersey, in hopes of quelling what turned out to be a six-day race riot that killed 23 people, injured 725, and incarcerated 1,500.

Often, the African-American Avon Avenue kids would chase me home. I became a very fast runner and even joined the track team, and became the only “cracker” to place in a heat. Grandpa laughed when he heard that. By then, I was sitting with him on the top step while he drank beer and my grandmother cooked dinner. I told him I wished I had been born a black boy instead of a white girl. All our neighbors were black. He would talk about Germany and what many went through, leaving their homes, family, and work when Hitler came into power.

“Eh, in Germany, it was the Jews. Here, it’s the blacks and whites. Just don’t let them catch you.”

“Will you time me running up the driveway? I’m getting faster.”

“Get me a beer.”


My grandfather and I would argue about which show to watch on the little black-and-white TV, while we waited for my parents to come from their New York City jobs, eat dinner, and turn around again to our own home, where I lived late weeknights and weekends, in Union, New Jersey. I wanted to watch Astro Boy, while he wanted to watch The Life of Riley. He mainly won, except when I had a bad day at school or when I didn’t run as fast as the Avon Avenue School kids. During the shows he would ask me about my day.

“Did you get in trouble today?”

“No. But, Virginia beat up Ken during math. Sister Marie DePaul cried the whole time. Ken said he didn’t like the smell of her nigger perfume.”

“Eh, that stupid kid. You gotta keep your mouth shut.”

“Yeah, I guess.”

I liked to believe that I was a carpenter’s assistant. Although he could barely move, my grandfather had me set up two workhorses and told me to get the wooden saws and the 2-by-3-by8 pieces of wood so I could make stilts. He sat there and drank beer and instructed me on how to make them. I brought them to school and awed everyone; all colors and makes of people were impressed as I walked the halls two feet above my fellow students.

Grandpa Hoeler reminded me that he had built the houses on the block.

“People don’t ask what color the builder was. They like the house, they move in.” He spoke, then cleared his throat of the phlegm that settled in the back.

A man of few words, I believed he loved me. He even showed Afro-American Judith Smith, my best friend at the time, how to make stilts. We constructed stilts and go-carts in the first of six connected, brown wooden garages in the backyard behind my grandmother’s garden.

They rented out four of the garages to people who worked in New York City and took the bus from Newark. One garage housed pigeons. A man would catch them in our backyard and place them in the garage. I would often go in to watch them. Grandpa would drink beer with the pigeon man and the three of us would sit and talk about the birds. I named some and had my favorite, and Grandpa and the pigeon man would remember their names. I was always impressed by that. When the pigeons left, the pigeon man would say he had found the bird a good home. What did I know? I was eleven during this time. How did I know they wound up on a dinner plate?

Newark had become a bed of coals waiting to ignite, and ignite they did after Lester Long was murdered. The fire of fear jumped from family to family, street to street. Black gangs would throw stones at the whites. Many of the whites moved, leaving few left. My parents wanted my grandparents to move to Union, New Jersey, near us, but they refused. My grandfather continued to sit in his chair, shuffling in and out of the house for the flag, and to drink beer. This was his home and this is where he would stay.

At the end of a cool April day (two months before Lester Long was murdered), I exited the school building in single file with my classmates. A Puerto Rican girl named Ann Marie had promised to pulverize me at the corner of 10th Street and Avon Avenue. She had spread word of my fate around the school and a crowd formed to watch. I was filled with such rage that I pounded her—to my complete shock.

I had stopped running.

The school called my grandmother, never my best fan, and I was made to sit in the dining room, past darkness, to wait for my parents, who were due in three hours.

Saddened by the whole day, I tried to lose myself in fantasy. The door behind me was a swinging door into the TV room. My grandfather rarely sat in the chair behind the door anymore because it was too close to the TV and too hard to get up from. He had to grab the arms of the chair and push. I heard him clear the phlegm from the back of his throat and knew he was about to speak.

“You got in trouble today, kid,” he whispered.

“She said she was gonna beat me up and she hit me in the face; she hit me first. So I punched her in the mouth. Now grandma thinks I’m bad,” I whispered back.

“What does she know? Eh, you’re not bad.”

“Grandma says the school called. I broke Ann Marie’s tooth, and her nose bled.”

“Kids shouldn’t be fighting. I’ll put on the TV.”

The Life of Riley?”

“No, your show, kid.”

“Grandma won’t let me leave here.”

“You can listen. I’ll turn it up. I’m going to get a beer.”

I heard him turn up the sound, then shuffle toward the basement. When he returned he yelled at my grandmother: “Let the kid watch her show.”

“No, Jules. Turn off the TV.”

“No, I’m watching it.”

He sat down in the chair behind the door and stayed there the three hours before my parents came home, except for two more visits to the basement (taking a few minutes with grunts to get out of the chair)

That summer my parents decided to take me out of the school. Newark had become too dangerous. It was the same summer that my grandfather slipped on some wet bricks, in a thunderstorm, while taking in the flag. My mom swore it was rocks from the black gang.

Either way, I lost the most important person in my life.

There were never heroic words or heroic actions from Grandpa Hoeler. Yet, I always felt that he had saved me from hatred and loneliness

Grandpa died and his old office on Springfield Avenue was burned to the ground in the racial unrest. My grandmother finally moved—after the tanks rolled into Newark.


A Clean Well-Lighted Park Bench

every dreamSeeing my play on video brought me to a deeper level of my work. A friend of mine said that he had to remember that even though the actor, Brian Levi, made my play shine, that it was me that wrote that very first word. Like bringing anything to life, the seeds get planted, grows and then blooms. But in the playwright world, there are so many hardships the flower must endure before it can be appreciated. First the playwright may have to change some of the words, or a sentence, and the flower has less leaves, maybe even less color. Then their is a gardener, a director, that takes hold of  the flower and plucks it into a vase that reflects the the beauty of the work, or not, the final manuscript. The actors accent the design, the curves and the special nuances. The stage is the room that the flower is placed. Is it given enough light? When the sun rises like a curtain to a new day, will its essence shine, or will it wither?

All these aspects have to blend together to achieve the perfect blossom. Yet, in the end, the audience decides whether or not they like your vision, your theme, your flower. But you have the last silent word, not the audience. My silent words? It was awesome, and I loved it. What else is there? Until it does eventually wither in memory and is replaced by another seed to be nurtured.



Silence Interrupted

I know I said that I would have the third installment of mystery authors that have witnessed murder, outside of police, investigator, and military, but I’m still waiting for some people to respond to my survey. It seems not many people have witnessed an actual murder, then added it to their mysteries, or even began to write mysteries.

But … instead, I’m sharing with you my short play, SILENCE INTERRUPTED, last show, of four, tonight, March 29th, in San Fran’s SF Theatre Pub (144 Taylor St, San Fran). Logo below.


Cast of my play, with producer and director:

Silence interruptedFrom left to right: Sara Judge, producer; Ellen Dunphy playing Cara, Danielle Gray playing MIME, and Carole Snow, the director.

P1080832 A mime, played by Danielle Gray, meets a distraught CEO of an internet company, Ever Lasting Love Dating service, played by Ellen Dunphy. It reminds me of a quote from my fellow International Centre for Women Playwrights comrade, Barbara Blatner, “Silence is as fascinating as language, methinks.”


Does anyone see theatre or movies with/about mimes anymore? There silence is rich for the telling. In the world of noise, working a mime into my play was enlightening and rewarding.th

Livius Andronicus Latin adaptations of Greek plays in 230 BC (Rome),  were more lyrical in their metrical form, and more impassioned in their tone than the ordinary dialogue parts. In the musical recitation of these Livius seems to have been very successful, however,the exertion being too much for his voice, he introduced the practice in these monodies, or cantica, of placing a slave beside the flute player to recite or chant the words, while he himself went through the appropriate gesticulation. Hence, a mime was born. There is much more to the history. I just wanted to point out how  far back in time this form of acting existed.

The emotions of the mime to the gesticulations of what the mime sees is what attracted me to write this play … not to mention that Danielle was a mime–a performance artist.  What would bring the mime out of her/his silence? What attracts the mime to stay in such a world? Even when abused, the mime stays silent. Yet, it is in that silence, and the ability to act out a story, we find their superiority. Maybe that is the reason some people dislike them. However, I love them, and intend to build my short play into an one act, one hour play about the nature of silence verses the nature of the talker.th (3)


Giving Thanks to the Self

Shadowart200It’s that time of year again. I posted this picture one other thanksgiving to discuss  our “shadow”. In Jungian Analytical theory, I wrote, there is a concept called the Shadow. The Shadow is the collection of unacceptable characteristics about ourselves, others, and society that we place in the dark nooks and crannies of our personality. The more one is true to themselves, the smaller the shadow is. What I also added: “Every individual needs,” as Jung stated in 1966, “a revolution, inner division, overthrow of the existing order, and renewal, but not by forcing them upon his neighbors under the hypocritical cloak of Christian love or the sense of social responsibility.” I would add … or an adherence to cultural demands and institutions. So family members and holidays don’t have to go together, if you still want to celebrate the holiday.
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This year, I’m giving thanks to me. We don’t  give thanks to ourselves enough. My new collection is coming out in three weeks, Deadly Illusions (The title kinda fits with our “shadow” lurking about to nudge us to question reality), and I’m proud of my work. Each collection gets deeper and richer. Just when you think you have done your best work … I know we all go through those phases, but I’ve been pleased with each growth spurt.FullSizeRender (4)

I helped produce the 24 hour play fest for the Playwright center of San Francisco, and learned what goes into a theatre production.

My plays have taken off this year with an award in Marin Fringe, and one play chosen to be produced in NYC (Times Square Theatre) and in SF (Exit Theatre). “A Clean Well-Lighted Park Bench” will show in two weeks, Dec 3,4,5,10,11,12! Seven shows, eight plays. I’ll take pictures.

falling_angels_detailThen, I completed my psychological thriller, Moloch and the Angel, am sending it off to agents. Even if it doesn’t get picked up by an agent, I am thrilled that I have worked it to my satisfaction. I thank me for hanging in with all the drafts, researching pace and movement, and most of, asking for help. Sure I’m grateful to those that aided in my growth, but right now I’m indulging in self gratitude; it’s making me smile just writing this.

But most of all, I am thankful for finally reaching a decision on how I’m going to spend the next year of my writing life: my Dr. Anna Smith series and plays. My short stories are turning into plays anyway, so I’ll focus on my novel and plays.  I’m relieved that I made that decision, and am thankful that I have the acumen to see clearly a path, and the strength to follow it.

So for any of you reading this, thank yourself for your accomplishments, for hanging in when you thought you couldn’t, for making a unspoken promise to yourself, and for that smile that seems to appear out of nowhere.

Yikes, book stores closing … robots writing stories … what next?

FullSizeRender The pressure is on for authors to sell books. With book stores closing because of amazon and other Internet outlets, publishers demanding authors to do their own marketing, publishers delivering contracts with less incentive, and selling books cheaper, it’s a wonder authors don’t just pack up their pens, and close down their imaginations.

But now, we may be replaced by robots! Robo-journalism was used to report an earthquake in Los Angeles, CA, in March. The article, however, was based mainly on data from the US Geological survey. Here’s the article: “A shallow magnitude 4.7 earthquake wrobotas reported Monday morning five miles from Westwood, California, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The temblor occurred at 6:25 a.m. Pacific time at a depth of 5.0 miles. According to the USGS, the epicenter was six miles from Beverly Hills, California, seven miles from Universal City, California, seven miles from Santa Monica, California and 348 miles from Sacramento, California. In the past ten days, there have been no earthquakes magnitude 3.0 and greater centered nearby.This information comes from the USGS Earthquake Notification Service and this post was created by an algorithm written by the author.”

Sounds like it was written by a real journalist.

“However, As well as the earthquake report, it also uses another algorithm to generate stories about crime in the city – with human editors deciding which ones need greater attention”, the article continues (LATimes March 17th).

08ROBOT-master675     Shelley Podolny  “If an Algorithm Wrote This, How Would You Ever Know?” (NYTimes 3.7.15)

“These robo-writers don’t just regurgitate data, either; they create human-sounding stories in whatever voice — from staid to sassy — befits the intended audience. Or different audiences. They’re that smart. And when you read the output, you’d never guess the writer doesn’t have a heartbeat.

Consider the opening sentences of these two sports pieces:

“Things looked bleak for the Angels when they trailed by two runs in the ninth inning, but Los Angeles recovered thanks to a key single from Vladimir Guerrero to pull out a 7-6 victory over the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on Sunday.”

“The University of Michigan baseball team used a four-run fifth inning to salvage the final game in its three-game weekend series with Iowa, winning 7-5 on Saturday afternoon (April 24) at the Wilpon Baseball Complex, home of historic Ray Fisher Stadium.”

First one by a machine, second by a human.

Next, we’ll be reading novels written by computers, a conglomerate of the best-selling authors with a simple plot, realistic (ha) characters, and a creative twist at the end that you would have never imagined.

And the “The End” on the last page will mean exactly that.



Music and Memory by Barry Ponneck

Larry and I were walking around Santa Rosa waiting for the 6th street theatre to open. We picked up Sonoma County Peace Press (June/July 2015) and I read this article, word for word as printed, and was very touched by the video and the new research in reaching Alzheimers patients.

Barry Ponneck is a long-time peace and justice activist who lives in Windsor, California with his trusted and loyal pal, Duke, his service dog, and his roomate/caregiver. This the first-half of Mr. Ponneck’s article:

No one wants to end up alone and isolated in a nursing home. It’s hard enough to lose someone you love to Alzheimer’s or other

forms of dementia. It’s terrifying to think you could end up there yourself, someday. I should know. Because of circumstances in my life, I ended up in a skilled nursing facility (SNF) and spent 14 months feeling alone, isolated, trapped. If not for the extraordinary support and love of some very dear friends, I might never have walked out of that facility. This story is not, however, about the negative aspects of nursing homes in general or about what I experienced living in the SNF.

 What it is about is the magic of music and how we can improve the lives of Alzheimer’s sufferers and those who have other forms of dementia. The best part of this is, the remedy is extremely inexpensive! How is this possible, you-ask? About six months ago I went to see a “must see documentary” called Alive Inside. I was initially hesitant to see the film because my 14-month nightmare was still way too recent, and … it was about people in nursing homes. AliveInside_NewSlide-dvdWell, I talked myself into going and it was without a doubt one of my better decisions. I laughed and cried along with the rest of the audience, and by the time I left the theater, I had decided I wanted to do something to assist this amazing organization, Music & Memory, Inc. What Music & Memory does is simple, elegant and effective: They train elder care professionals, private caregivers, and family members in how to set up personalized music playlists delivered on iPods and other digital devices, for those in their care. These musical favorites tap deep memories not lost to dementia and can bring residents and clients back, enabling them to feel like themselves again, to converse, socialize, and stay present.

It’s truly amazing what music is capable of doing Watching the many different residents, who are provided with an iPod programmed with their favorite music was a kin to turning a light switch on and off. In the off position, the resident is in his or her own world, not talking or interacting with anyone else, almost in a state of catatonia. When the music is turned on, it’s like they have woken up from a deep sleep. The scared, isolated stares are replaced with smiles, laughter, and often singing along with the music … like Harry in the video.

www.memory and music.org


Loneliness and the Writer-Part III

iStock_000047109864Small_610_300_s_c1_center_centerLoneliness and creativity.

DR. Nancy Andreasen,  Neuroscientist and Psychiatrist, as well as a Ph.D in Literature, stated (The Atlantic Magazine , August 2014, “The Secrets of the Creative Brain”). “Creative people are the resources that permit civilizations to advance.” In her research, she hypothesizes that mood disorders are a great part of the psychological make up of the creative brain, and began her research with the renowned Iowa Writer’s Workshop and Kurt Vonnegut. (Although she has completed extensive longitudinal research on her subjects, her methodology and findings have been questioned.)

According to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi of Creativity, there are three types of creativity: 1) “Person who express unusual thought, who are interesting and stimulating; 2) people who experience the world in a novel and original way … perceptions are fresh, judgements are insightful, making important discoveries that only they know about (until they write about it and people read their writings); 3) individuals who have changed our culture (adding to our culture) in some important respect.”

What happens when the creativity stops, the “flow” dwindles, and solitude turns into isolation, and goals lay by the wayside? Do writers feel an intolerable sense of emptiness while being alone? Some yes, some no, some in-between … depending on the individual’s interactions, routines, personalities, what’s happening in their life at present, and goal expectations (not to mention childhood experiences and family interactions).200px-Jean_Jacques_Henner_-_SolitudeCreativity really has nothing, more or less, to do with loneliness. It’s the extent of solitude and how we handle that solitude that matters. Many creative people are wrapped in solitude. As Csikzentmihalyi states in his book, Flow, : “The ultimate test for the ability to control the quality of experience is what a person does in solitude, with no external demands to give structure to attention.” Do we work on distractions of the mind? Do we invite characters into our thoughts and let them stay? For how long? Then what? What happens when nothing is coming or going out? Do feelings of anxiety seep in the empty spaces? Do you feel empty?  Csikzentmihalyi  adds, “One can survive solitude,  but only if one finds ways of ordering attention that will prevent entropy (blockage of creative flow) from destructing the mind.”  Do we fill those spaces with computer games … Spider Solitaire … Angry Birds? That’s a positive alternative; you have turned your mind into concentrating on a specific task. The unconscious mind is still working while the conscious mind relaxes (and has some fun).

Structuring your time will control your mental focus. It’s when solitude is seen as an enemy … “A good enough writer must face eternity, or the lack of, each day,” as Hemingway believed, that depression and loneliness will be close at hand.

Loneliness and the Writer–Part II

Depression-Loneliness-and-the-Writer’s-Life-650x447“If you are finding yourself struggling with loneliness, you’re not alone. And yet you are alone. So very alone.” Anonymous

Many writers choose social isolation, a precursor to the feeling of loneliness, to fuel creative endeavors– toimages (5) enhance their creative expression. Although this self-imposed social isolation, often termed solitude, is simply a lack of contact with people. It’s ironic when I hear the word solitude and think of Superman’s Fortress of Solitude, a self imposed exile from man, but a place that would have portals to other experience to enhance Superman’s knowledge of … well … life, the universe, and everything.

We, as writers, maintain a fortress for our writing, our minds flying through different portals of experiences with our characters, research, and plot lines. So, when do we step over the threshold from solitude to loneliness?

When we feel loneliness.

Loneliness can occur for so many reasons, socially, physically, and emotionally: separation of friends and loved ones, temporarily or permanently; being asked to leave a social circle or group; being physically handicapped and not feeling accepted; going through postpartum depression, and especially after surviving a divorce. When a person is so filled with rage or resentment or any feeling to the extreme, isolation can be the outcome.

The existentialist, especially Sartre, believe that loneliness is part of the human condition. After all, we are born alone, walk through life (or stumble) alone, and die alone. Our desires to have meaning in life conflict with the “nothingness” we believe is out there.

Untitled1Sylvia Plath, a famous Poet who committed suicide in 1963, wrote about her loneliness: “God, but life is loneliness, despite all the opiates, despite the shrill tinsel gaiety of “parties” with no purpose, despite the false grinning faces we all wear. And when at last you find someone to whom you feel you can pour out your soul, you stop in shock at the words you utter – they are so rusty, so ugly, so meaningless and feeble from being kept in the small cramped dark inside you so long. Yes, there is joy, fulfillment and companionship – but the loneliness of the soul in its appalling self-consciousness is horrible and overpowering.”

When we reach the depths of loneliness, soul depth, where what is real or what is imagined no longer matters, where darkness pervades every pour of our bodies, and loneliness eats away our resolve and resistance. There is no longer meaning in life and our creative juices evaporate. Then loneliness has become deadly.

1-6Jo_fYzhiaHeD0qDqxodZQVirgina Woolf’s phrase “The loneliness, which was for both of them, the truth about things,” (from To the Lighthouse) can be an example of this. One of its meanings could be that loneliness can be lessened through some form of company (that they are not providing for each other), or that (deeply prevalent in Woolf’s psychological constitution) the “I” (alone and lonely) and that “life of mine” (untouched) prevails whether the world exists or not, unchanging. (from the writing of Frank Cioffi by Thomas Basboll)

Loneliness can be transient or chronic, and our reactions to it just as varied. It’s good to stop and check with ourselves every once in a while, to insure that under that self-imposed solitude is not a slow-growing loneliness.

Loneliness and the Writer–Part III, next month.



Loneliness and the Writer– Part 1

In his 1954 Nobel Prize acceptance speech, ErnestHemingwayErnest Hemingway wrote: Writing, at its best, is a lonely life. Organizations for writers palliate the writer’s loneliness but I doubt if they improve his writing. He grows in public stature as he sheds his loneliness and often his work deteriorates. For he does his work alone and if he is a good enough writer he must face eternity, or the lack of it, each day.

In Nathan Crawford’s article for The Guardian, August 2014, he discusses Kay Jamison, professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University, reports that writers are ten to twenty times more likely to suffer from depression than other people. Yet, as Crawford retorts, referencing a scientific study is not necessary to confirm tired speculations that depression occupies that dominancy of thought for those consumed by the written word. All one need to do is look at the history of literature to see that writing and depression is a bitter-sweet relationship as Bailey’s Irish cream is to coffee. David Foster Wallace world copyright Giovanni Giovannetti/effigie                                               David Foster Wallace

David Foster Wallace, arguably the greatest wordsmith of the last century, committed suicide well before the dusk of his life; whereas Ernest Hemingway, whose father, sister and brother all took their own lives, was practically destined for suicide. In short: High-minded writers seem to occupy the depths of human despair, but why? Writers tend to be an awkward bunch, he adds. I disagree, in part, because many of my writing friends are far from awkward. However, he does continue to state: The process of writing, editing, and revision requires being obsessed with self-criticism—the leading quality for any depressed patient.

Nathan Bransford, author and retired literary agent says: I don’t find the act of writing to be a lonely one. There’s something about the concentration, the empathy required to imagine what characters think and do, and being immersed in another place that never makes you feel you’re actually by yourself. It’s comforting to have the control over an imagined world that we can never have in the real one.

But the act of writing is a solitary one, and the writing life forces you to shut off the outside world for long stretches of time. To complete a huge task like a novel you have to say no to outings with friends and time spent in the sunshine, and choose instead to chain yourself to your computer or notepad and stare at it for hours on end. And because you have to spend so much time writing, you might not leave enough time for friendships and fun.

Writing might not inspire loneliness, but the writing lifestyle definitely can.

The lack of social contact with friends, family, and running partners because  you are near your book’s due date, and the book is not completed; needing one more rewrite so you can “work’ that weak area in chapter seventeen; concentrating on the consistency of the “voice” all impede time necessary to get out of the chair and communicate with others. Loneliness is a feeling that seeps into your soul slowly, so that soon you might not even want, or think you need to be with others.
10614259_10152686201461823_7648764409462098800_nTo be continued …