Some people who might otherwise be artists, or merely more productive, turn their creative talents elsewhere because they cannot tolerate being alone for extended periods. Anna Held Audette
Is it ever honorable to avoid creating, practicing, playing at your chosen craft or tackle a hard task? Of course. There are a thousand times when you can righteously say “no” to the work. But there are as many times when you must righteously say “yes.” Between the two there is no time left ever to say “maybe.”
When you do say “yes,” where will you be? Completely alone. In order to start, an artist must invite in and be able to tolerate active aloneness. We can all tolerate passive aloneness reasonably well: in that dull state we can nap, watch TV, read, play computer games, think of people to call. But active aloneness is a cat of another stripe.
To be actively alone means to be belligerent, alive, ecstatic, afraid, on your feet, wired, doubtful, upset, fired up, and all the rest. It means that mistakes are about to happen. It means that contradictory ideas will engulf you, and confrontation will occur. As the painter Agnes Martin explains it:
The solitary life is full of terrors. If … you go walking down a country lane in the dark, it is an entirely different thing than walking with someone else. If you were not completely distracted you would surely feel “the fear” part of the time, the pervasive fear that is always with us. In solitude this fear is lived and finally understood.