Alone time is vital for writers – it’s very difficult to hold a conversation while writing emails even, and when deep inside a character, it’s almost impossible. I apologize in advance for being rude to people who interrupt when I am working with my wobbly muse.
They never know how they will find me.
I might be surly, distracted, vacant.
Or I might seize upon communication with the outside world with desperation and giddiness, begging to be saved.
I imagine it might be a bit frustrating for those trying to make contact.
I like solitude, generally, and am happy with my own company. It lets me play in my head and helps with my distractibility. But I’m also an over 50 single woman who has lived for most of my life in a pair-bonding situation. I need that, too.
It’s not that I get lonely, most of the time. I have learned over the years how to keep myself occupied. I know, though, when I find myself watching Mad Men reruns and eating Honeycomb cereal, I’ve reverted to the self that needs a companion.
And then I read something like this article , reading about the sad Susan Sontag, and the more balanced Vivian Gornick, who comments this way about the need for marriage:
“It is this conviction, primarily, that reduces and ultimately destroys in women that flow of psychic energy that is fed in men from birth by the anxious knowledge given them that one is alone in this world; that one is never taken care of; that life is a naked battle between fear and desire, and that fear is kept in abeyance only through the recurrent surge of desire; that desire is whetted only if it is reinforced by the capacity to experience oneself; that the capacity to experience oneself is everything.” The promise of marriage is the promise of togetherness, support, safety, and this prevents a woman from taking responsibility for her own life — and therefore ultimately from “experiencing” herself — by removing the motivation behind all important action, which is the terror of aloneness.”
It’s an interesting point. Sometimes I wonder – how much of my life is governed by fear of aloneness? I remember the primary reason behind marrying my ex when I did was that – and the fear that my mother would keep me at home to nurse my parents in perpetuity. I knew that would kill me. I am not that selfless a person.
Writing is great for aloneness, as it drives activities suitable for when one is alone, and forces activities to refill the pot. I don’t know about others, but I need to go out and about to get stimulated to write – I need conversations and sights and deep experiences and touch and tastes.
But I also know that I didn’t really think about what I wanted to be when I grew up until I left my marriage.
So I dance the delicate balance between wanting a partner, and running away from same, between writing and experiencing, between solitude and connection. It isn’t always effective, and I waste a lot of time teetering on the tightrope, but it is currently where I need to be.
Sometimes, though, I wish for someone to come along and take me off the tightrope, hold me tight, and tell me I don’t have to create myself every morning from the scraps of the night before.