I was trying to explain recently how a writer’s thought process is different from the rest of humanity’s. (When I say writer, I am referring to not only traditionally recognized or published writers, but also the ordinary shade of flunky that holds a pen in hand, waxing lyrical while hidden in his closet.) In day to day life, the writer is the person who views each conversation from a bit of a distance, wheels turning furiously but not communicating as much as observing; the writer is the one who is constantly replaying and reexamining the minutest nuance or inflection long after the conversation has ended. The writer is busily trying to answer the questions that no one else knew were being asked, perhaps because they were asked in the two thirds of the conversation that were held in the writer’s head. The writer will press her own experiences through the sieve of cross-examination. She will disassemble the moment, examine each component and then reconstruct it, usually with a startling degree of accuracy.
The writer will sacrifice many more moments to fully experience this one.
“I try to explain to her that the writer is the duelist who never fights at the stated hour, who gathers up an insult, like another curious object, a collector’s item, spreads it out on his desk later, and then engages in a duel with it verbally. …. That is why the writer is the loneliest man in the world; because he lives, fights, dies us reborn always alone; all his roles are played behind a curtain. In life he is an incongruous figure. To judge a writer it is necessary to have equal love for writing as for the man. Most women love only the man.”