This Is for All the Lonely Writers


She sat in the second row amidst a noisy gaggle of fourth graders. She was petite and olive-skinned, and her dark eyes measured me as I paced back and forth and pontificated about matter ethereal and authorial. I could tell, from her sharp, sensitive answers to my questions, that stories were seared into her soul, branding her for a calling that perhaps even she did not yet recognize.

After her classmates had exhausted their inquiries about my writing, my age, my dog’s name, and the magical source of all ideas, she quietly raised her hand:

“When you were our age, were you ever lonely?”

Her eyes were so direct, her question stated so simply and honestly, that it was perfectly clear what she was asking: Were you ever like me? Is it possible to feel so alone, so different from everyone else, and still grow up to be the kind of someone I want to be?

I couldn’t, in that room full of a hundred children, run to her and throw my arms around her. And I doubted very much that she was the only one who harbored such a question in her heart. So I answered her as simply and directly as she had asked: “Yes. Yes, I was lonely. I was so shy and quiet that boys would tease me in order to see who could get me to talk. And yet in my books I found friends. As I read and wrote stories I became other people, I went on adventures, and I found out more about who I was.”

I wanted to tell her: The loneliness will end. You will find your place.

I wanted to tell her: The world is full of lonely people, and someone else is looking for the friend that only you can be.

But those are only half-truths. It would have broken my heart to speak the whole truth to her or to the nine-year-old version of myself that I saw in her eyes: You will continue to be lonely for a long time, and your loneliness is the furnace in which fine metal will be forged, and out of that place of inner fire will rise your art. For you will be a writer someday, and words will come from those places in you where speech is muffled and still.

* * *

I have no idea what it is like to be an outgoing, extroverted writer. I can only speak from the perspective of someone who scores 99% on the introvert scale—who still, after having had many so many dear friends in my life, pushes constantly against a wall of shyness, who still feels lonely in the midst of loving community. I’m not sure I’ll ever get over the feeling of being the Picassoesque face in every crowd—slightly disjointed, slightly askew, poised on the edge of normal but too cockeyed to be cool. You would like me, surely, if only my left ear were not hanging crookedly off the end of my tongue.

But along this introverted journey I have learned a thing or two about loneliness and community and art.

When I was four years old, my pre-school teacher told my parents never to let me close myself up in my room by myself—because she could already see the tendency in me to get lost in my own mind, to bury myself in my imagination. (My parents didn’t tell me about this conversation until I was an adult. Growing up, I assumed it was a universal rule that children were not allowed to close the doors of their bedrooms.) That teacher was prescient; she saw the warning signs of a lifelong struggle.

I had no right to be a lonely child. My family was extremely close and unfailingly supportive. I did not look different from my peers or even act much different (except for being quiet). The real problem was that I was too deep for my own skin. I was always standing apart from the world, analyzing it, taking it in, mulling over it. My thoughts, questions, fears, and dreams were buried so far under the surface that I did not know how to scale that chasm back to the land of other people again. It was like pulling a heavy bucket of words up from the bottom of a well; there was just too much. It was too hard.

Sometime around age thirteen, I discovered the following poem in a literature textbook:

A noiseless patient spider,
I mark’d where on a little promontory it stood isolated,
Mark’d how to explore the vacant vast surrounding,
It launch’d forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself,
Ever unreeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them. 
And you O my soul where you stand,
Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space,
Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the spheres to connect them,
Till the bridge you will need be form’d, till the ductile anchor hold,
Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul.

I didn’t know who Walt Whitman was. I had to look up promontory, filament, ductile, and gossamer in the dictionary. But I knew that this poem was about me, as surely as if my name had been written at the top. I was that spider. The poem expressed precisely how it felt to grow up as a shy, overly thoughtful girl. I hugged it to my heart all through high school.

And then, in college, my favorite professor told me something that was the complementary truth to my pre-school teacher’s warning: “The time you spend alone with your books and your art is not wasted, and it is not selfish. That solitary learning and growing will make you a better friend, a better wife, a better mother, a better teacher.” This acknowledgment and affirmation of my introversion, like the Whitman poem, made me start thinking about aloneness as the necessary fire that launches us into community.

I have heard so many people make fine distinctions between solitude and loneliness, saying that in the solitude of creativity we are alone but not lonely. Because of course solitude is the incubator of a writer, or any artist. It forces you to develop a rich interior life. The mastering of an art—and the nurturing of those disciplines of contemplation from which art grows—requires vast amounts of “alone time.” Stories and poems emerge from silence. Their birthplace is a quiet gasp of wordless wonder.

Except that so often the solitude of art-making is lonely. Deeply, painfully lonely. And I think somehow it must be, to a certain extent. If you are an artist by nature, then art comes out of that place in you that cannot be shared with another human being except in this creative form. It gives a voice to inner things that otherwise could not be spoken, inner things that make you who you are in your truest moments. Flannery O’Connor said, “The quality of the novel I write will derive precisely from the peculiarity or aloneness, if you will, of the experience I write from.” Peculiarity and aloneness. Don’t most of us feel that way? And yet this sense of disjointedness and isolation can be the very source of the peculiar word that we alone can speak. If we were perfectly “normal,” perfectly loved, perfectly understood, perfectly aligned with the contours of the world we find ourselves occupying, would there be anything left to say?

There comes a time in our childhood or adolescence when we learn that the world is broken. Not only that, but we are broken, like Humpty Dumpty, and we cannot put ourselves back together again, even when we are surrounded by well-meaning royal helpers. Loneliness is the gaping hunger of the cracks.

But the grace of art is that it thrives in broken soil. And that is why, when I saw that fourth-grade girl, full of loneliness and imagination, I saw the seedling of an artist. I saw someone who, like me, had a secret room inside. Who probably, like me, was longing for someone else to come and fill it. But no, I thought as I looked at her, seeing my own nine-year-old self, if another human being could come into that inner room and fill it up, you would stay there forever, never emerging from the cocoon of your own dreams. The fact that no one can come into that room, but you still need to share it, forces you take the precious things in that room with you and leave it—and that is a creative process, a movement outward.

It launch’d forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself . . .

Here is the paradox: You cannot make art except by being alone, and yet you cannot be an artist in isolation. Along with that wonder born in solitude comes an irrepressible urge to turn to someone else and tell him or her about it. The creative impulse in you speaks two things. First: Make this. Then: Share this. Do not hold it tightly to your chest. Cast it out of you and let it fall. Then cast it out again, and again, Till the bridge you will need be form’d, till the ductile anchor hold.

I have come to believe that in order for art to be art, it must be given: creativity is at its heart an act of self-giving, and it is given in gratitude for having received something. It is an act requiring great courage—courage to stand in that lonely place and at the same time to be conscious that one is surrounded by faces, and to be constantly reaching out of the loneliness into communion with the world. Art is always reaching.

Here is a further paradox: In order to not be alone you must go by the way of aloneness. In order to find one who can receive your words you must have the courage to first send those words on the journey out of your self into a world that may not receive them. You must fling that gossamer thread out across those oceans of space—and flinging is not a safe, calculated movement. It is reckless abandon. It is a motion of both carelessness and joy.

And you will be rejected. You will find yourself, sometimes, in community (because it is still community whether you like it or not, whether you are happy or not) with people who are utterly different from you, who have opposite interests and concerns, who do not understand you and whom you do not understand, and yet they could be the very people from whom you will learn the most, who will hone the edges of your spirit until it grows gentler in the friction, and to whom you must learn to give yourself because that is when the gift is hardest and riskiest and therefore valuable in its frailty.

The loneliness from which your art arises may give you insight into some deep empty place in the heart of humanity, and your unique expression of that need might be the mirror in which others can finally see themselves and know they are not alone. So by forming the fruits of our solitude into words or pictures or music, we turn loneliness into love. That work of art—that story—that poem—becomes a third place, outside of my heart and yours, yet bridging both.

My husband Pete says he could not have written his novels about Fin Button today, because marriage has taken away so much of the emptiness and sadness that was the fuel for that story. Yet how many thousands of people was he unwittingly loved through that story spun in a bachelor’s empty room? I was single until I was 36, and the years leading up to marriage were pockmarked by moments of searing loneliness that will always remain part of my own peculiar experience. The gossamer thread that finally caught and held to another person was art. I offered my story—the story that had pulled me out of myself and into the world—to one particular (and equally peculiar) man. He offered his story to me. And those words wrought in our separate solitudes became the first bridge between us.

But even in marriage, even in the midst of likeminded community, even when we finally find those people who will shelter us from the burning glare of the great alone, we (at least we introverted artists—I cannot speak for anyone else) always ebb back into a solitary hidden place inside that is only ours, that we cannot explain to anyone, that no one else seems to see or understand, and yet we are so driven to share it that it must come out in artistic expression. This place is the spring in the mountains from which flows the river that will bless all of those precious people in our lives. It is the place of prayer, and it is the place of art. Because in that innermost place we are most aware of the things that transcend us.

Is it possible to create from a place of fullness, joy, belovedness, and belonging? I am sure there must be, but I don’t know what the art of perfect wholeness looks like, because as far as I’m aware no broken person on this broken earth has ever made it. I don’t know what songs Humpty Dumpty will sing when he is put back together again, yet I wonder if even then the quality of his art will derive precisely from the peculiarity of the cracks from which he was healed.

I have been deeply lonely in my life, and I have been deeply loved. And I would not part with either of those experiences, for they both have been necessary to set me upon the journey I’ve taken.

And so this is all I want to say to her, in the end—to the beautiful dark-eyed girl who stands on a solitary promontory, spinning her gossamer thread:

Fling your silken soul far out into the world, little spider. It will catch.

Jennifer Trafton served as the managing editor of Christian History magazine before returning to her first love, children’s literature. She is the author of two middle-grade novels, The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic and Henry and the Chalk Dragon .


  1. Chris Yokel

    Wow, this is just fantastic Jennifer. I grew up the exact opposite child: loud, extroverted, wanting to be the center of attention. But as I’ve grown up and gotten in touch with my inner artist I’ve balanced out more on the personality scale and found that aloneness and loneliness, sometimes deliberately, sometimes inadvertently.

    I appreciate the comment from Pete, because I know that a lot of my music and poetry was written directly out of my loneliness, and now that I’m in a relationship I’ve noticed my art shifting and I couldn’t put a finger on why. I now realize that shift to companionship is part of it.

  2. Erika Stephens

    Jennifer this is wonderful. It seared me. I am reading and rereading. It is remarkably true to my own experience as a child, a writer, an adult. Sometimes it feels that i grow more and more introverted with time and increasingly lonely. I’ve been angry about it, but am finally realizing it is part of who I am. It informs my creativity, my writing. I push myself out of my comfort zone now and then, for the sake of community and friendship, and because the longing to share is unbearable at times. But this also made me think of Marilynne Robinson’s line in “Gilead,” how we are all worlds unto ourselves, “mutually incomprehensible” to one another.

    Thank you so much for writing this. It is fresh air.

  3. Jennifer Kennedy

    My heart is so full after reading this that I don’t know where to begin or what to say…except to say thank you for affirming that it’s ok to be like this…and for giving hope that something lovely or worthy may come of it.

  4. Cara Strickland

    This mirrors my thoughts and experiences so closely.
    I was that lonely 9-year-old, and like you, I wouldn’t trade that experience for the world.
    It isn’t quite right, as you say, to suppose that loneliness goes away, but it does deepen, and there I can find myself, my voice, and my God.
    Thank you for sharing this.

  5. Colleen Duebber

    This resonates in me. I felt many times growing up: Am I the only one asking these questions? Feeling this way? As an adult, I overthink, feel very deeply, share broadly and also am afraid at times for having to do these things. I don’t know that I will ever feel totally at peace ‘flinging’ my work into the wind, but I don’t know that it’s belongs to me to feel that. It’s risk, and sometimes completely unseen reward. I just feel this is what I am called to do, and I can’t argue with whether fulfilling my callings is a rough road or a smooth one.

  6. Brenda Branson

    Wow, Jennifer! Your words are so expressive of my heart and soul. I was such a shy kid that I would cry if a teacher frowned at me. Now as a big kid, I spend most of my time alone, sometimes lonely. Yet, in community like I find in Hutchmoot and in other treasured friends I’m drawn out of my loneliness into the fellowship of lonely, broken people like me. In those times, my heart is so alive and full to overflowing it may appear I’m not really the introvert I know I am. I am transformed by love. I wonder if that’s the way we will all be transformed some day into His likeness. The difference may be that our transformation will be complete then, whereas now we go from glory to glory, enjoying the momentary connections but eventually returning home to rest comfortably in our hiding places. What we crave so deeply and agonizingly now will be satisfied later with an unending feast.

    Jennifer, thank you for being exactly who you are and delighting us with your beautiful imagination and heart, and for flinging that gossamer thread of friendship our way.

  7. Clay

    Beautiful. Revealing. Thoughtful. Artful. I also am a 99% Introvert, and a near-perfect INTJ. As an introverted thinker, though, I marvel at the opened-vein, bared-soul, story-formed writing and music of introverted feelers. It always makes me wonder if I should even call any of my own writing and music “art.” But it also always makes me want to try to go deeper in my own artistic expressions. FTR, I was the 9-year-old loner, and lonely, fat boy on the back row analyzing and critiquing everything you said so I could find a way to do that, too, only in my own way. I’m not doing that today, but your words set my mind to thinking, and that’s what good art should do.

  8. Matthew

    The title just got the tune of that America song stuck in my head. “This is for all the lonely people.” That’s not a bad thing . . .

  9. David

    In order to find one who can receive your words you must have the courage to first send those words on the journey out of your self into a world that may not receive them. You must fling that gossamer thread out across those oceans of space—and flinging is not a safe, calculated movement. It is reckless abandon. It is a motion of both carelessness and joy.

    The whole essay is wonderful, and this — as God’s living icons we are creators, and the shape of our creating is inescapably trinitarian, and inescapably missionary. We send our little logoi out into the world, knowing that they may be rejected.

  10. Helena

    This is glorious, Jennifer. It’s taken me quite some time to realize what an introvert I am, because I was always forced to be extroverted, to entertain family members, to talk to church visitors, etc.
    But this quote is what I wrestle with: “The time you spend alone with your books and your art is not wasted, and it is not selfish. That solitary learning and growing will make you a better friend, a better wife, a better mother, a better teacher.”
    I feel smothered by the demands of my life, by the complete and utter lack of a time and place of solitude, of anything that feels like it is just my own. Can I be a wife/mother/writer/etc. and have the solitary time I so desperately crave? It does feel selfish. It feels unrealistic. It feels childish. It feels abnormal or unhealthy. And yet, no matter how I try to silence it, that desire for solitude is always screaming.

    I’ve often wondered if lonely people become writers or if writing makes people lonely. You’ve addressed the question comprehensively. Lots to think on.
    Thanks so much for this.

  11. Ennazus

    Thank you, thank you, thank you…There’s a time when my heart longs to be as encouraging as you, but I know I will never be any more encouraging than myself. I have to be myself. Thank you so much for flinging this gossamer lifeline of hope out to me.

  12. Allison

    Someone who knows me now, and only now, as a wife a mom to three rambunctious boys, a church member, asked me recently, “Were you class president at your school?”

    She is older and wiser and deserves my respect, but I honestly wanted to laugh in her face. Me? You should’ve seen me, Ma’m. I WAS that nine-year old girl. I’ve grown a bit into someone else, someone who can chat up a stranger now and not be afraid, someone more like my mom, which is okay.

    But inside I still have that inner artist longing to fling my craft upon the world. And the only way she’s going to emerge is if I find the time to hide for a while, cocoon up as it were. It’s harder now, with family and littles and more responsibilities, but it’s possible.

    Thank you for sharing this, Jennifer, especially Whitman’s poem. I needed to hear this more than I knew.

  13. Loren Warnemuende

    So much of this resonates. I don’t know how many times growing up my mom had to push me out the door to get together with friends. I guess it was necessary, and I certainly did build deep friendships and I have some amazing, beautiful friendships today. It’s become so easy sometimes, though, to talk to a friend instead of working things out in writing…and so I think if how many thoughts and words have been lost on the wind of talk as a result. Both good things I guess…. My default mode is to lapse into silence, and huge dialogues go on in my head (much to my kids’ chagrin when they’re trying to get my attention!).

    One memory I will always have of you, though, Jennifer, is last year at Hutchmoot. I’d gotten up the courage to thank you for your book, and told you how much our family had loved it. The next morning you joined my sister and me at breakfast, and it warmed me so much to know you were looking out for us newbies; that you wanted us to know we were welcome in the midst. I can imagine what a challenge that was for you, and I want you to know how much it meant to us!

  14. Eowyn

    This is very comforting. Most of my childhood friends were inventions of my own imagination. I remember feeling guilty about it and going to play with my siblings for a few hours as penance. But I always came back to immerse myself in my own worlds. Even when I had the realization that Earth was as magical as Middle-Earth (which apparently most around here consider as a turning point), I always felt a really weird kinship with these imaginary people that I could feel with no one else, not even flesh and blood humans.

    I’ve always had a sneaking suspicion most writers wrote out of loneliness, so this fascinates me. I’ll now sit down and mentally critique the idea. And you told me I’d do that. How do you know SO MUCH about how I think?? Where’s the hidden camera?

  15. Shanna

    These words were healing today. So much is me; nearly exactly, except that my family isn’t close and I felt akin to an alien. Thank you for writing them.

  16. lynn

    I love that your professor gave you, and really all of us, permission to be by ourselves: “The time you spend alone with your books and your art is not wasted, and it is not selfish.” I don’t know how many times I’ve had to ‘explain’ to someone else how or why I want to spend time by myself. To many of my non-introvert friends, I am weird for wanting to be alone simply to read and at times in my life, I have struggled with being different in this way. As if somehow I am selfish for wanting to be by myself. Thank you for sharing this. It is beautifully written and speaks to many of us.

  17. Sarah

    A kindred writer-friend who knows loneliness well enough to recognize another lonely soul shared this with me today. Your words made me cry in the break room at work because of how deeply they resonated with me and how much aching childhood loneliness they trudged up. It’s been a long time since I allowed myself to be by myself, let alone feel lonely. Social media and young children (not my own) surround me with noise and (sometimes virtual) company. Thanks for these words. I’m going to make a point to spend Saturday alone, accompanied only by a notebook, for the sake of finding that “quiet gasp of wordless wonder.”

  18. Matthew Benefiel

    Beautiful Jennifer. I’m stuck somewhere in the middle, and it has always been that way. As a child I spent time with my four siblings, yet I spent many a moment in my room alone crafting my stories (through legos and such, no writing). I can tell you the other side is no easier. The times I’ve spent being too outgoing to the point of foolishness. How many times I left a social gathering realizing I spoke too much; cutting off each person in turn. I’ve also been the other direction where I pull in when I should have talked. Yet in the end all things worked for Him who made us.

    I think in the end we all find lonliness. It is as Andrew P says, it’s the voice of Jesus calling us His bride. As you have stated, our earthly marriages, however wonderful, fall short. I love my wife, she is the one that pulls me out, balances me; yet my own corrupt heart has cast her aside too many times. We are broken together, lonely; only to turn to Christ. In those dark dying moments after the tears have fallen and after the self pity has run its sad course; we find we are not alone after all.

  19. Lisa

    Jennifer, thank you. I knew as soon as I saw the title that this one was for me, and I was right. I’ve struggled all my life with feeling “Picassoesque”, and in my 50th year I’m struggling with it still. These words were a blessing.

  20. Lexi

    Thank you so much for sharing. I wish the nine year old me had heard these very words as well. It still resonates very much with the twenty-five year old me, though.

  21. Annie Wald

    I love your insights–like diamonds that have been transformed from coal [if I have my analogy right]. Thank you for giving voice to this experience–I’m adding my amen, or perhaps more appropriately my ‘so it is’.

  22. Paula

    This was beautiful. As a definite extrovert, I am always learning how to understand, learn from, and encourage the lovely introverts in my life (namely my husband). Thank you for your insight. As a fellow teacher of young souls, how do you think extroverts can best encourage and teach those child introverts we come into contact with?

  23. Amy Goodgame

    Jennifer, this is just beautiful! You are such an inspiration. Thanks for writing with my kiddos last year, and for the lovely book of their stories!

  24. Renee Keren Powell

    I really hope this article makes the Molehill 2. It would be nice to have it in hard copy so I can highlight and add my own comments for future reference.

  25. Jennifer Trafton

    Thank you to everyone for such kind and encouraging feedback!

    Helena – Not being a mother, I don’t feel I have any right to give advice on that delicate balance of time you deal with and the dilemma of how to find solitude and creative space in the midst of all those competing demands. But I do not believe your craving is selfish, childish, or unhealthy. Would you say the same thing about your desire for food and rest? You could, after all, save a great deal of time and trouble if you never ate or slept, and yet you’d physically wither away if you did so, and that would not make you a better wife and mother. So if there is an unmet need that is causing you to wither emotionally or spiritually, don’t you have an obligation to take care of yourself in that way as well, for the ultimate good of your family? I know this must be very hard. I hope you can find a way to carve out that space for yourself!

    Loren – I remember that breakfast very well, only I recall you all graciously welcoming me! So glad we were able to begin our friendship that way.

    Paula – Great question: “As a fellow teacher of young souls, how do you think extroverts can best encourage and teach those child introverts we come into contact with?” First, let them be quiet. Don’t force them to speak until they are ready. And don’t be surprised if they are ready 30 minutes or 24 hours after the conversation has ended – an introverted child (and some of us adults!) needs a lot of time to process things internally and formulate a response. But it’s worth the wait. Second, give opportunities for such kids to express themselves in writing, rather than verbally. This may mean writing you a letter, keeping a diary in class, or open-ended personal writing assignments that allow them to slowly craft their feelings and thoughts within the safe environment of a silent piece of paper – rather than being put on the spot to say things out loud in front of other people. This is not just a matter of shyness, it’s also about how such a child processes information and shapes her inner world into a form that others can see. And when they do express themselves, give LOTS and LOTS and LOTS of affirmation. No criticism. No focusing on their mistakes, spelling or otherwise. Encourage their heart and their bravery first and foremost.

  26. Elisabeth TenBrink Kelley

    Thank you so much for posting this. I am very much that introverted child, though I have the privilege of having a very understanding brother. Sharing is certainly just as important as being alone, and can help in every stage of the process.
    I don’t know how, but I’ve always known that I was a writer. I hope that someday I can be like you.

  27. Caitlin I.

    Thank you so much. As a young, introverted, aspiring artist, living in a (wonderful and loving) family of extroverts, this is perfect. Your words are beautiful and penetrating. And they add to my hope. So thank you.

  28. Brooklyn

    I was that child and I am that woman now.
    I’ve been flinging gossamer and it hasn’t caught yet. It’s snagged and snagged and snagged. And folks pick it off and fling it back. But reading this gives me hope.

  29. Emily Brown

    You are a gem and your art inspires. This article makes me want to carve out quiet time and write. Thank you for sharing!

  30. Grayson Pope

    “This acknowledgment and affirmation of my introversion, like the Whitman poem, made me start thinking about aloneness as the necessary fire that launches us into community.” Mmm… Such beauty and understanding in those words. Introverts are born with an innate sense of community from the Father just like the extroverts. We just need a little more time forging in the fire 😉

  31. WriteInTheHead

    I found this very painful to read. I almost didn’t finish it.

    Made me think of Annie Dillard’s “The Writing Life.” I freaked out completely the first time I read her discussion of how lonely creation is.

    Do you suppose Jesus, the Ultimate Creator, experiences / experienced this loneliness, too? Creates from that space?

    I want to know the Truth.

  32. Toni Star

    This is so wonderful; it is beyond words! Just reading this has made me feel less lonely and happier with the writings I do.

    Fantastic, clear and wonderful!


  33. Jennifer Trafton

    Writeinthehead, what an interesting theological question. I do believe Jesus experienced loneliness on earth, more profound than anything we’ve ever known, and we can take comfort in that. But the question of whether God, as Creator, created out of loneliness, is more complicated. My instinct is to say no, the doctrine of the Trinity means that in a way that is utterly mysterious to us God embodies community in his very being. But I do believe God created out of love, out of a desire to share himself, and that the self-giving of God is at the very heart of creation. So I don’t envision a lonely deity who made us a world so he could be less lonely, but a God–Father, Son, and Spirit–who was so overflowing with communal love in his essence that he chose to create us that we might be the recipients of his art, and so share in that creative communion with him. When we make art out of love and self-giving, we are doing so because we are made in the image of a God who did it first. And I believe that someday, in a redeemed world, we will also create out of fullness and perfect community, not out of loneliness any longer.

  34. Jennifer K.

    “And I believe that someday, in a redeemed world, we will also create out of fullness and perfect community, not out of loneliness any longer.”

    I wonder what that will be like. I long for it.

    Thank you for this glimpse of the Other – the world beyond the glass. (1 Corinthians 13:12)

  35. Kevin Strickland

    Ah, truly sad and beautifully true. In some ways, instead of dreading the fact that I identify with so much of this, I actually find myself glad to be told these things that I have been afraid to admit myself. I just hope that I am up to the task of digging out the precious resources of my own soul.

  36. Abigail de Leon

    Wow, this is very truthful of my life. Many times I have tried to change myself – be more extroverted and smile brighter and do all these banal things to fit into society – but in the end, they all turn to disaster. Now I am learning to embrace and appreciate the personality that I have and utilize it. This article is great. Thanks for writing it 🙂

  37. David Brown

    Wow….I am writing a novel and have been mainly doing the planning and research for a year, with some narrative writing. I have a lot of solitude in my life and am always trying to reconcile that – not as loneliness – but as a blessing with the extra time and quiet needed to connect with my deeper writing self and the Spirit which inspires me.

    I just happened to have found this link on the web site of Maria Sirois, whose work caught my attention as I was browsing through the Kripalu Center’s programs for a possible retreat.

    A beautifully written piece. Thank you from the depths of my creative soul. I will keep it and re-read it again. There is relevance to my current project and pearls of wisdom that seem to coming my way. May your journey be blessed every moment.

  38. Asmaa

    I have lived fifteen years on this Earth of ours and I had thought myself at my breaking point but I came across this and I feel that I just have to post a comment. And though there are hundreds of thousands of words in the English language, I cannot express how much this means to me, it has touched my soul. The beauty of your words, and the feeling they evoke, the memories, oh how I weep. I had thought myself the only one to be this way and now I have found a kindred spirit. I thank you a million times over for this piece, I am sure my writing will never quite be the same because of it.

  39. Jennifer Trafton

    Asmaa, you are not the only one. There are many of us quiet, lonely spiders out there. Hang in there. Keep writing. Make beauty.

  40. Olga

    Thank you for sharing this Jennifer, your words helped me a lot, since I’ve been questioning my sanity after spending much time with the paper and the pen.

  41. ChelseaLee


    Thank you so much. I don’t want to say too much on the internet, but I need this and have for a long, long time.

  42. ChelseaLee


    Thank you so much. I don’t want to say too much on the internet, but I need this and have needed it for a long, long time and probably will continue to need to remember it.

  43. Cara

    Reading this was a little peculiar. I wondered how you knew me so well, the dark eyed girl who says so little but has stories hidden in all the quiet, tucked away places of her soul. And the spider is so beautiful! I’ve not long finished the first draft of what I have to say and once it is made beautiful, spun like gossamer, your words have given me the hope needed to fling them out and see who they might catch 🙂

  44. Carissa Jansson

    There most certainly is a loneliness that accompanies the life of “an overly thoughtful girl,” and it is deeply encouraging to see that thoughtfulness as an asset rather than as a liability. Thank you for your words.

  45. Carissa Jansson


    There most certainly is a loneliness that accompanies being “an overly thoughtful girl,” and it is deeply encouraging to see that thoughtfulness as an asset rather than a liability. Thank you for your words.

  46. Thomas Leonard


    I’m new to the Rabbit Room. Somehow this post was marked as Oct 10, 2017, even though by the comments I can tell it was first published in 2013. Needless to say, I believe God wanted me to read this today. Even though I was a talkative kid and am a talkative adult, I have always struggled with loneliness. Indeed in retrospective, I can see more clearly how loneliness led to creative juices forming as an outlet for the pain of being misunderstood. Thanks for flinging your thread!

  47. Patricia

    I once read Leonard Marcus comment that being an outsider seems good preparation for a career in children’s books.  I was curious why he would say such a thing, mostly because loneliness has been a major theme in my experience and children’s books are a kind of an obsession for me.  I have since come to value solitude as a gift to my imagination in ways that you have mentioned.

    But what was refreshingly insightful in your piece was the tenor in which you wrote – that we not wish the secret room away.  Loneliness is painful, and I frequently find myself looking for the door of escape (will this ever be over so I can belong like “normal” people?)  Instead, I feel encouraged to embrace the solitude as I seek to relate; to “filament, filament” and spin loneliness into love.

    thank you for your thoughts.

  48. Becka

    Wow. Just wow. And here I thought I was messed up, good-for-nothing idiot who should get a life and throw all dreams away cause no one I ever met was like me. Reading this was like cleaning an infected wound – it hurt, but I feel better now. I can breathe again. I needed this.

  49. Kristin Kjorlaug Dobrowolski


    God just dumped love and courage on to my head. Thank you. What a needed reminder that God is the Great Artist and I too am made in His image. Why am I so fearful to share what He’s given me? Bravery–a daily battle.  I don’t feel as strange anymore.

  50. Kristin Kjorlaug Dobrowolski


    I keep coming back and reading this article. It gave me solid ground to stand confidently on and a sense that God made me just like this because it’s how He wanted it to be. I love Him more now and am less afraid to just do art for Him.

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