'No one but a fool ever wrote except for money', said Samuel Johnson famously . On a day when the papers are telling us that the gap between the income of 'top' writers (JK Rowling et al) and that of the average writer is bigger than ever, his saying bears thinking about. But that's not what I really want to say. Let me instead suggest a new saying, which may or may not catch on: 'No one but an introvert ever enjoyed being a writer'.
Don't get me wrong. I love writing, and every time I do it I remember just how how rewarding it is, whether or not money is likely to be forthcoming - although it's nicer when it is. It's not the actual writing I don't enjoy, it's the being a writer. Because let's face it, being at home with no one to talk to but the cat and the computer, doesn't really work for extroverts. And I am, as numerous Myers Briggs profiles have shown, an extrovert. I don't mean I'm mouthy and a show-off, although I can be both. I mean I need to be among people, or at least outside the house, to gain energy and motivation.
I don't always have to relate to the people. Wandering round a food market, with strangers milling around, will often do. But what I know is definitely bad for my mental health is being alone with my thoughts for more than a day at a time. Yes, my husband comes home in the evening. And yes, our son, having (hopefully temporarily) dropped out of university, is around to disturb me, usually when I've got stuck into a particularly difficult piece of writing. But that is not enough.
Many writers, of course, get that extrovert hit by being speakers as well, which also does marvels for one's public profile and book sales. But I'm not on the Christian speaker circuit (probably on account of being a shameless heretic) and besides, I'm not that kind of extrovert. Public speaking fills me with dread. So how to avert the gloom of writer's loneliness?
In my email address book I have an group called 'Lunchladies', consisting of other women with whom I occasionally have lunch (and a couple of men both of whose names end in 'sop'). When I start feeling too isolated, I fire off a group email to them and hopefully get some positive responses. But people have busy lives, especially in London, and the initiative has to come from me. I'm a long way from my goal of having a lunch date every week.
There is probably no easy solution. Perhaps group blogs like this go some way towards feeling more part of a community. And Facebook, provided it doesn't take over, is a lifesaver. Nevertheless, being a writer is isolating, and always will be. After 35+ years, I ought to be used to it, but I'm not. Anyone else out there feel the same?
Veronica Zundel is a freelance writer whose latest book is Everything
I know about God, I've learned from being a parent (BRF 2013). She also
writes a column for Woman Alive magazine, and Bible notes for New
Daylight. Veronica belongs to the only non-conservative, English
speaking Mennonite church in the UK, and also blogs at