The traditional solitude of writers is so different from the companionship of blogs. Marguerite Duras wrote alone:

The solitude of writing is a solitude without which writing could not be produced, or would crumble, drained bloodless by the search for something else to write.

She writes of her room, a room of her own, though it could be many rooms, requiring

..certain habits that I always maintain, wherever I go, wherever I am, even in places where I don’t write, such as hotel rooms–like the habit of keeping whiskey in my luggage in case of insomnia or sudden despair. During that time I had lovers. I was rarely without at least one lover. They got used to the solitude in Neauphle. And its charm sometimes allowed them to write books in turn. I rarely gave those lovers my books to read. Women should not let lovers read the books they write. When I had finished a chapter, I hid it from them. This thing is so true, for me, that I wonder how one can manage elsewhere or otherwise when one is a woman and one has a husband or lover. One must also, in such cases, hide the love of one’s husband from lovers. Mine has never been replaced. I know that every day of my life. (Writing, page 2-4)

It’s a very different idea of what writing might be to the way we write in blogs, isn’t it? I remember William Gibson saying that he would have to stop blogging when he started writing his novel: “It would be like trying to boil water without a lid,” he wrote, in his blog. On September 12 he stopped blogging, for now, anyway, in order to write.

There are different strands of writing, that’s clear. I didn’t blog my PhD thesis directly, instead I blogged around it, between it, quite often ahead of it, blogging what it might become. In research, blogging has been my site of research as much as my reporting of it.

I wonder whether Duras’s lovers read her novels after they were published?

9 thoughts on “solitude

  1. Francois Lachance

    Similar meditations on the “screening” of writing spaces over at Planned Obsolescence

    I like the double entendre in screening. Conveys the site of showing as much as the blocking of site.

  2. Jill

    Wow, thanks, Francois. I love the way you connect blog posts like this!

  3. Francois Lachance

    You are most welcome Jill.

    I need to clarify that I did intend to write “blocking of site”. Some readers may have, considering the context, interpreted as a move to create a dichotomy and a misspelling of “sight”. I meant the theatrical sense of blocking, that is laying out the lines for movement.

    It just so happens that Anne Galloway has a bit on the space-shaping of cell phone use

    This image of the solitary writer at work, especially the woman occupying a space of one’s own crops up in some of Calamity Jane’s preoccupation with the conventions of ekphraksis
    The conventions that Calamity Jane describes provide an interesting set of starter points for a typology of the discursive moment when a blog entry calls or harkens for a partition of space. I find it fascinating that the question of “what belongs where” — the content question — is related in some uncanny fashion to the question of what type of work when…

    BTW that might be an entry or reentry into Searle. I have a hunch that classic readings of the venerable philosopher confuse “content” with “work”.

  4. Jill

    Ah. That article by Searle my opponents want me to read before the defence has now been tracked down by eager librarians whom I imagine making a threatening phone call to the person who’s been hanging on to the journal issue for weeks. The phone calls apparently worked better than emails, as the overdue borrower promised to bring it in today. If she did, I’ll get it on Monday.

    I have this idea of libarian-militia in army boots going to the miscreant borrower, if she didn’t bring the book in, and belting down her door yelling WHERE’S THAT BOOK!

    Sorry. That was off topic. I’m easily distracted in a certain direction these days.

  5. Norman

    Be glad there’s someone out there who apparently wants to read; though I do hope the delay wasn’t merely the result of it being a slow reader? I know, I’m old and cynical. Of for glorious youth, when I used to be young and cynical.

  6. Jill

    I suppose the miscreant borrower may have been reading, but when I’m late taking books back to the library it’s not usually because I’ve been reading the book continuously for two months…

    But I like this borrower, now, anyway: an email message yesterday afternoon told me I can come collect the journal issue at the library on Monday. So that’s alright then 🙂

  7. Scott Rettberg

    Personal Blogging
    I followed a link in a comment from Jill’s post on writing and solitude to an interesting discussion at Planned Obsolesence on the division between the personal and academic in weblogs.

  8. Invisible Shoebox

    essays and weekend dilemmas
    Writing is so bloody difficult. Jill has a post today about writing and solitude and it is timely for me.

  9. accidentals and substantives

    Francois, the pixel-driving man
    Like Matt and everyone else, I’ve been pondering the Francois Question for a while. Maybe it’s the neo-luddite in me, but I see Francois as the John Henry of our time. He indexes, cross-references, tracks back, and links manually and…

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