I’ve always been a bit of a recluse in my heart of hearts. I don’t like social occasions much, and only just about find them tolerable with a drink or two inside me. I don’t like big crowds and noise. I prefer to connect with just one or two people at a time and, even then, a little bit goes a long way. Some people, I’ve found, consider this odd, but I really don’t think it is. It’s just the way I am.
My reclusive tendencies are probably exacerbated by my being a writer. Some people claim to be able to write while sitting in crowded cafés or in between chatting to friends. I’m not one of their number. If I’m going to write something – or at least something that stands a chance of being even remotely good – I have to lock myself away in my writing space, shut out the rest of the world, and enter into that private, quiet space that exists in my own mind, where stories gradually coalesce, take shape, and occasionally unravel.
It may be a matter of past habits becoming ingrained. For various reasons, I had a rather lonely childhood. Perhaps that’s where it all began for me; I found that I could conjure up friends in my imagination, friends who were actually rather more reliable than real people, simply because they never left, never let me down, and never overstayed their welcome either. I made up stories about those friends in my head; eventually, I started to write those stories down. Things just progressed from there, perhaps.
I’m still writing down stories about my imaginary friends – and it’s still a pretty solitary business, on the whole.
Even the most reclusive writer needs a bit of company, though, and the internet has been something of a godsend in this respect. Log on to Facebook or venture into the blogosphere, explore for a bit, and sooner or later you’ll probably find people who are at least a bit like you. People may bemoan the internet’s effect on social interaction, but it’s possible that we’ve gained just as much as we’ve lost. For the first time in recorded history, our circle of acquaintances aren’t limited by geography and chance; we can search for likeminded people amongst the millions who have an online presence, and stand a very good chance of finding them.
Joining Authors Electric was a blessing for me. I was at something of a crossroads at the time, unsure which way to take, and feeling a bit lost – and, yes, isolated. Being a member didn’t solve my problems for me, but it did help me to feel that little bit less alone while I sorted them out for myself. I had people to talk to, a sense of being involved in a dialogue of sorts. I was connected with other writers, people with similar experiences – some, indeed, were so experienced and so qualified that I felt like a newborn compared to them. They all, however, knew what it meant to write, in a serious and sustained way, and how it felt to care so much about the result.
I’m leaving AE this month. My life has been getting steadily more hectic over the previous months, and has finally reached overload. I need to simplify my life, cut down on my commitments, devote myself to what is truly necessary. Perhaps I need to crawl back to my hermitage and stay there for a little while. Sometimes you feel expansive, and sometimes you just want to be alone to think things over. When things calm down a bit, and if there’s an opening, I’d still quite like to rejoin.
Either way, I’m grateful for the time I spent as a member of AE, and for the way I found some companions in my solitude. It helped a lot, and I can only hope that perhaps I helped a little bit in return. It’s good to have people to share your isolation with.
Re-blogged from Authors Electric.
9 thoughts on “Company in my Solitude”
I totally agree, Mari. The internet can be a powerful force for the isolated writer. As you, say which genuine writer isn’t isolated, at least to some degree? And sometimes groups serve their purpose for us and run their course. Maybe you’ve already met the people you need to from the group.
I hope the overload in your life is with good things.
Oh and I meant to say – I love that writing space – how orderly it looks!
Hello Paul, and thanks for commenting! The overload is due to a variety of things, but I think in essence I just want a chance to enjoy the forthcoming summer holidays (you’ll know that feeling, I’m sure). I should confess, however, that the photo of my writing space was taken a few months ago, and its condition has deteriorated quite a bit since then…
I think AE were very lucky to have you, anyway, Mari. There’s another book out by them; I pre-ordered it, thinking there might be one of yours in it. Will there be? It is difficult about groups, they can be so time consuming,but one doesn’t want to be a solopsist (I’ve forgotten how to spell that). The best of luck, anyway. I agree with the comment above – that does look both a spacious and a tidy writing space. Guess where mine is? In bed every morning, in longhand, with a notebook. But I do have a desk…
Ah, and the Hermit is a card of wisdom and enlightenment as well as being isolated, so it’s not a bad card at all. Agnes told me that…What am I talking about – I told her that! These imaginary friends…
Hi Lucinda – writing in bed, in longhand, My word, that sounds tempting…
There will be a story of mine in the forthcoming anthology, and also in a ghost story anthology released at around Halloween time. Thanks for pre-ordering, it’s very much appreciated!
Mari, I’ve enjoyed all of your posts written under the banner of Authors Electric. The collective will miss your voice, but I do hope this doesn’t mean you’ll abandon blogging entirely! I look forward to your witty, wry, insightful and well-written posts.
I love getting a glimpse of a writer’s creative space. I think meeting you via my reading of The Quickening led me to imagine you wrote in a stonewalled grotto, with a bit of moss and maybe a gravestone visible through a narrow window. That said, I love your art and the modern reading chair and the overall contemplative mood your writing space evokes. My writing space, and way of writing, changes with the project. When I write my dark, speculative fiction, I write at my desk in the sunroom. The walls are yellow, and there are thirteen windows – a view onto my own yard and a bit of wilderness (no gravestones, sadly). When I write poetry, I sit in a huge leather chair, in a dim room with moss-colored walls (why is moss a theme here? I do not know!), and a small window festooned with a string of white Christmas lights. Novels start and end in the digital realm, all Word all the time. Poems are written longhand, only to be transposed into a Word document after a period of incubation.
Congratulations on making the decision to set aside time for yourself, Mari. It is easy to be consumed – even by activities we cherish! It is brave to take a sabbatical.
-aniko (just too lazy to switch WordPress accounts, mea culpa!)
Hello Aniko, and thanks for commenting. I like the way you change your writing environment depending on the project – different things call for different circumstances. Your imagined writing space for me sounds just about perfect, but sadly such romantic surroundings are a little beyond my budgetary constraints at the moment!
I’ll still be blogging here, just perhaps a bit less often. The summer holidays are coming up, and I want to make the most of them. I want to do normal, boring things, like taking the dog out and mowing the lawn. I want to write, too, of course! I’m hoping the simplicity will help, but we shall see…
I wish you the best summer, full of languorous dog walks and soul-enriching lawn mowing – and I am not being facetious! I find lawn mowing very restful. 🙂 As for the writing, I hope that your subject captivates you, and the words flow like prosecco.
As for the writing space – what you have is perfect. It must be, for such good stories are born there!
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