"What do you plan to do with your one, wild, precious life?" -Mary Oliver

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Lonely Pursuit Of Delight

Bear with me as I draw an odd correlation this morning. It was brought on by NPR’s John Augustine’s review of a biography about Beryl Markham, the first to fly solo East to West across the Atlantic against the headwinds that aided Charles Lindbergh.


Her feat thus surpassed Lindbergh’s, but the acclaim was his. She also wrote an autobiography, West With The Night, which is one of my all-time favorites. 

It occurred to me that writers have a lot in common with solo pilots who pursue this “lonely impulse of delight,” a term coined by Yeats to describe solo piloting, but one he could have as easily applied to his own life’s work.  The ultimate flying experience seems to be that of the solo pilot. But for writers, there is no other way to work. 

Yesterday Sally Ride, another pioneer female aviator, died from pancreatic cancer. Ride was the first American female in space. While we often think Americans were the sole pioneers in flight, many terms from aviation come to us from the French: including aviation, fuselage, and May Day, to name a few.   

We have always been as intrigued by flight as we are mystified by the singular pursuit of a writing life, which many see as nothing more than the pursuit of failure. In that regard, there’s a lot of hot air out there about the lonely drunken writer. We don’t need any more hot air in the atmosphere. The oldest flying contraption was the hot air balloon, but the most rewarding profession is writing.

8 comments:

Anthony Duce said...

I have to admit, I hadn’t heard of Beryl Markham until I read this. It seems solo achievements depend a lot on the media and maybe a bit on timing. I like the idea of writers as solo pilots. To sit down and begin to write takes confidence both in ones self and in there being an audience who cares, or now days, who will take the time to read when the work is finished. Of course some are better at getting the attention of the media to assist in this regard.

Pet said...

Yes, writing is the best, but loneliness is a sad companion. I wish people will read me more, I have to confess to that :-)
A secret: Most of my friends do not understand why I "waste" my time with my blog, what is the purpose of it, they say. Would you call that friends!
PS. I myself would be frightened to fly solo!

Talli Roland said...

It is rewarding, isn't it? Must admit I don't really find it lonely - I quite enjoy the space and silence.

Yvonne Osborne said...

Anthony,
It does take a lot of confidence and thick skin. I, too, like the idea of writers as solo pilots. I think you said it better than I.

Pet,
We want to be read. We are afraid to be read. Most of my friends and family also think I'm wasting my time. I'm not. Watching TV is what I call wasting time!

Talli,
It's not really lonely to be either. I meant it more as "alone" vs. lonely. But hugely rewarding. Yes!

Anne Gallagher said...

My father still thinks I can't make a "go" of the "writing thing" as he calls it. He's always surprised when I tell him "the check is in the bank."

I'd much rather be alone writing, than working around other people. I'm not a "people" person.

And thanks for the comment last week about my ex-. It gave me quite a chuckle. Because that is exactly what he is.

Al said...

At least when we run out of ideas we only "crash to Earth" figuratively!

Yvonne Osborne said...

Anne,
Thanks! At least you're making some money from all your hard work!

Al,
Ha! Isn't that the truth!

G-Man said...

Nice little story Yvonne...
Hope to see you back soon.
Happy Harvest, and have a Kick Ass Week-End....G