Is solitude necessary for good writing?


Winter view from Emily Dickinson’s bedroom 

At the New York Times, Sarah Lyall writes about the inspiring experience of spending an hour in Emily Dickinson’s bedroom: Home Alone With the Ghost of Emily Dickinson – New York Times – 4/27/17

“Even if you’re lucky enough to have a room of your own, as Virginia Woolf put it in her elegant manifesto, and this applies as much to male as to female writers, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to suppress the cacophony in your head. It’s hard to find a calm spot for clear thinking.”

Her musing about the necessity of finding solitude is reminiscent of what Anya Jaremko-Greenwold had to say in her Jezebel article on her own hour in Dickinson’s bedroom: 

“No one wants to hear about millennial pressures—we’re the ‘me’ generation—but I still feel sorry for us, because we can’t really sit in our rooms and write like she did. Not if we want to be successful in our lifetimes. (Dickinson never was). Writers have to network, pitch, apply for day jobs, tweak resumes. Even novelists must sell themselves, finding publishers and niches to fill. You can’t retreat to a bedroom.”

On that note, here is

Passion for Solitude
Cesare Pavese, translated by Geoffrey Brock 
I’m eating a little supper by the bright window.
The room’s already dark, the sky’s starting to turn.
Outside my door, the quiet roads lead,
after a short walk, to open fields.
I’m eating, watching the sky—who knows
how many women are eating now. My body is calm:
labor dulls all the senses, and dulls women too.

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