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.