Musings on personal growth, books, motherhood, writing, and more.
I’ve always had conflicting desires for solitary independence and sure belonging—to be myself and to fit in. I guess everyone, at some point, feels both of these yearnings and the tension between them. But I think this conflict may be especially crucial for artists and other creative, independent thinkers. Artists tend to be highly sensitive to the approval or rejection of others, but they cannot make their art unless they can step outside their social dramas. Art requires a certain sense of aloneness.
In my life, I sometimes (a lot, lately!) long to go live in a tower or the woods or some other place where I can write and just be in total peace and quiet (I’m far from the only writer who feels this way; Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own comes to mind), and at other times I wish I could really fit in (or, rather, feel like I fit in) with a group of peers.
As I think is the case with most people, my yearning to fit in has faded as I’ve grown up; but it still stings sometimes, especially when it’s mixed with envy of other writers’ success. Oh, to be on a well-worn path, to fit easily into an established genre, to be recognized as legitimate and “one of us” by authors I admire! That is what I sometimes think.
But then the drive to be myself kicks back in, and I remember that I am on my own path—and that only by sticking to it will I have a chance of creating something truly original.
Even if I did fulfill my craving to reach “one of us” status with established authors, that would not be enough; my heart would remain unsatisfied, because it has its own, independent aspirations that I am happiest when I’m following. What I need more than the approval of others is the approval of my own heart.
This simple quote bolsters my courage:
“You can’t be an insider and make great art.”
– Gossip Girl, Season 4, Episode 2, spoken by the character Vanessa Abrams to the character Dan Humphrey
I agree wholeheartedly. (The quote goes on, “You have to stand alone to observe it. And not care whose feelings you hurt or what people think of you.” Also good words!)
To make great art, I must be an outsider.
And so I gently hush my heart’s whines for easy belonging, and I rekindle the fires of my solitary quests.
I may be repeating myself…here are some posts of mine on similar themes: