Solitary Life of a Writer
The writer said despondently, “It’s a solitary life, being a writer.”
The other man, never one for melodrama, replied, “Then go to a tavern. Have a drink. Buy somebody else a drink. And be a man. You’ll find there are other men willing to share a drink and some of their time and experiences with you – as a man – but not so much as a writer.”
“But I’m a writer,” the writer insisted. “I am a writer and, therefore, an artist.”
“Then have it your way.”
The man left the writer alone in his room. He walked down the street to a bar and ordered a drink for himself and another man already there, sitting alone. The man at the bar was wearing a fur-lined hat and already had a half-filled drink.
The man in the hat accepted the second Scotch. He moved down the bar with his glasses to sit beside the other who’d just entered and bought him the drink.
He thanked the man for buying him another whiskey. He asked the man how his day was going.
“I just visited a writer. A lonely, solitary writer.”
“Why is he lonely?” the man in the hat asked.
“Because he’s a writer.”
“If he’s lonely, you should have brought him here for a drink,” the other man said.
“He’s not a drinker. Nor a gambler. Nor a womanizer. Nor a socializer. Nor an enthusiast of any other sort. He is only a writer.”
“Not even a husband nor a longshoreman nor a father? Nor a man of God? Perhaps he is the owner of a dog, at least.”
“No. He is only a writer and, therefore, an artist.”
“Is he a man in possession of a good or bad spirit?” the one in the hat asked.
“Nobody knows,” the other man said.
“How can that be?”
“Because he is only a writer. A good or bad writer, perhaps. But as far as a man, nobody knows, not even him. This, I suppose, is the life of the solitary writer who knows nothing of himself except for his writing.”
“Nothing of himself or much of anything else, I imagine.”
“Correct,” the writer’s acquaintance said. “He writes well enough so it seems like he knows things, but he doesn’t.”
“The hallmark of a great writer,” the man in the hat said.
“Correct,” the first man repeated.
“I must presume he has nothing of which to speak but his writing, then.”
“Correct,” the man replied again.
“No wonder he’s lonely.” the man in the hat said.
Both men sat staring in the mirror behind the bar. The man in the hat finished his second drink. He ordered another for himself and for the man who had just come in and bought him one.
“So, where are you from?” the man finally asked the other in the fur-lined cap.
Then the man in the hat explained a few things about Baltimore and what had brought him from there to where they were.
The other man, though not a writer, listened and learned a little something that afternoon about Baltimore and why some men – real men – live and leave that city. While the man in the hat, though not an artist, learned a little something that afternoon about the solitude and loneliness of some writers.