A Writer’s Bench

Is there anything more lonely, painful, or exhilarating than being a writer?

Have a seat while I suggest a few answers.

An inviting and comfy bench silently demands of its user contemplation, introspection, the creativity of thought, and a genuine appreciation of nature, time, space, and respite. The expected responsibilities of a sitting writer are far greater. No bench should be taken lightly, without knowing the cost.

For me, an empty bench is an ideal metaphor for the solitude that comes when pen meets hand yet words refuse to appear. In reality, writing is a lonesome misery filled with the greatest of expectations. Some have suggested the satisfaction in doing so comes from the process rather than the inevitable ripened fruit. Partially, this may appear to be the case since the final product is usually anything but delicious… if revisited.

As demonstrated in the pictures above and below, we strive for color in our prose, but forces, seemingly beyond our creative control, creep in like a frigid malaise, draping us in a drab black and white landscape of indecision. At times, the futility of it all becomes deafening in the silence. Then, we dig deeper within, attempting to locate the vibrant words constructed of bold colors despite being presented in black on white.

Suddenly, and often unexpected, the words begin to gush in brilliant hues or in shades of pastels with accents of black and gray where needed. The pain and solitude subside temporarily while an exhilarating rush of endorphin washes over you. All external forces surrender to the overwhelming internal power that comes when pen’s ink paints unfettered. During this fragile period, you have command of creation. Love, hate, beauty, violence, pathos, life, or death are yours to mold. You’re firmly perched on the bench of power, and your words have endless capabilities.

Like with computers, the crash can appear at any time. Be assured, it does and will come to all writers. Call it what you will. But it’s a visceral, miserable, and painful period when a writer questions his or her creative control. To find you have very little power over this “virus” is like trying to breathe underwater without a tank of air. It has been reported by some writers that they can go through periods of insomnia while mentally chasing their muse on holiday or from worry at how long this word drought will last. Now, a bench seems awfully cold and uninviting… a foreign frozen metaphor shunning a weary sitter. The utter loneliness of your unrequited love addiction with writing marinates, festering within you.

The saddest aspect of this condition is that you’ve been on this figurative roller coaster before and considering the weight of your books’ bag, maybe many times. Pain is easily forgotten with time and so is the fact you’ve been here far too often. If there is an easy answer or a process to control and end this misery, I’m clueless to it. But with time, I’ve learned one placebo to ingest for it, and it’s quite simple. Try not to worry so much about it before and especially when it occurs because like most things, this too will pass on its own schedule.

Rest easy because within your mind the benches of creation and wonder will appear in the most incredible locations, and your words will again roar.

There’s my bench!






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17 Responses to A Writer’s Bench

  1. Wonderful piece of work, Ron. Funny it should pop up today, in the midst of another snow and ice storm…as I sit upon my writer’s “bench” with hopeful anticipation. I have gotten sidetracked twice, fast approaching a third. As my mind wanders to the package of “creative inspiration” calling me from upstairs (better known as chocolate covered peanuts), I try to stay on task. Let me just check my emails…and there is my inspiration before me. It is all in the timing! I love benches. They beckon, with a warm welcome. There is something about benches that speak “creativity,” when one answers their call. I love the bench with the moon shining on the water…beautiful. There is a figure up in the clouds, or so it appears, taken in by the seemingly tangible beauty the moon holds. That is what hopes and dreams are made of. I also love the benches in the snow, surrounded by peaceful silence, and the comfort it holds. Welcoming path of inspiration, Ron, leading me back to the bench. Time to venture over to one surrounded with flowers, to warm up in the sun! May the creativity flow…🌸 Best to you. Suzanne
    Suzanne Holko recently posted…“Random Acts of Kindness…Caught Being Good?”My Profile

    • ronshaw says:

      Suzanne, seeing your name always brings sunshine-filled joy to my day. Your comments are indicative of a true bench veteran. Yes. Benches always inspire me because from apparent solitude intense feelings flow. Before you realize it, you’re perched atop the world, writing freely, happily, and fruitfully.

    • ronshaw says:

      Mike, in viral times such as these what has worked for me are copious amounts of spirits… in short, write horror to vanquish the fever.
      Thank you for reading my blog and responding here.
      I do feel your pain, also!

  2. Daboetry says:

    AWESOME…TRULY AWESOME WRITE!! Yes, we’ve all been there and can definitely relate to this. Love the pictures of various benches, especially the colorful one depicting pencils-so so cool! Thanks for sharing.

  3. Love, love, love this, Ron! Beautifully written. Positively Shakespearian. And so very, very true. Sigh……

    • ronshaw says:

      Aunty C., your comments always inspire me to do more, be more, and to write better. Your words are inspirational. Isn’t it amazing how no matter how few there are when words like yours are perfectly presented they speak volumes?

  4. Jess Alter says:

    I love your metaphoric journey into writing through the imagery of something we often ignore–the benches all around us. As an author (like yourself), I know the joy of sitting down and observing a vibrant world and reporting the life which passes by all around me.

    I also know the longing to have a place of respite be hospitable when it’s not–especially when the surroundings appear more magical. However, just like that underwater bench or those winter-kissed benches are inhospitable, the writer’s chair can be equally cold at best and murderous at worst.

    Lastly, the reassurance that even an inhospitable seat will again be welcoming and comforting–and overlook a vivid landscape of activity and beauty–reminds me that the only constant in life is change.

    Beautiful pictures to illustrate a hopeful message, Ron. Thank you and kudos.

    • ronshaw says:

      Jess, I absolutely love your writing! Your comments had me in tears, smiling as the scenes you painted with words danced before my mind’s eye.
      Thank you so much for reading my simplistic little blog, and your comments are far beyond appreciated. They are treasured.

  5. angel says:

    Hi Ron: i loved your article on the bench. almost 3 years ago i purchased my dream property, on the side of a hill with an awesome view of a rural valley i call my shangri la. the very first day i spent there i purchased some lumber and built a park bench. i had a kit, few tools, and no lantern, so i finished it by the light of the super moon as it rose over Mt Shasta. the bench was the only thing there on the property, but i felt like i was in paradise. it was not til a year and a half later that i began to write my book HELLO MYRMIDON that is now finished but not yet published. i am writing a blog for my new soon-to-be-on-line website too (angelclough.com), a voyage of self discovery. now i suspect that my blog will soon include an article about my bench and the metaphor it represents, of being a harbinger of my new life as a writer/blogger exploring my past and how it has effected my present. you see, i lived in that valley as a small child, but we had to move away because my dad died. i have always known during the 65 intervening years that i would return there “some day”. it appears that “day” is now close at hand. so thanks again for the bench metaphor, it means a lot to me. angel

    • ronshaw says:

      Angel, thank you so much for visiting, reading my blog and especially for the lovely comments. The scene you painted looks heavenly to me. Like your bench, sometimes a thought, a word, or an imagined cover can spawn a book just as your ideal bench and it’s location have.
      Simply beautiful!

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