Monday, October 26, 2015

The Art of Being Alone

Over the years, I've learned the art of being alone. This is something almost every person who aspires to be a writer needs to learn.

There seems to be what appears to be fear about being alone, and I think it's because many people equate being alone with loneliness. I've met many people who can't fathom eating alone in a restaurant, let alone one choosing to do so. Or going to a movie. Or shopping.

Personally, I don't mind being alone. In fact, I enjoy it. Perhaps it has to do with being a writer and enjoying solitary activities like reading, writing, and other artistic pursuits. That doesn't mean, however, that I'm a loner or that I don't like people. But for a person who enjoys solitary pursuits, working in retail means having to engage in a lot of interaction with a lot of people. It feels good, after doing so day after day, to withdraw and spend time alone.

Sometimes I enjoy being able to read or write without interruption. Having people around means that I feel I'm neglecting them or being rude if I'm not actively interacting with them. Other times, I enjoy taking a drive someplace without having to justify where I'm going or what my purpose is in visiting a certain place. A writer's mind (well, THIS writer's mind) works in mysterious ways and trying to explain it to someone can end up confusing or frustrating them (and me) and only rarely creating a deeper understanding.

I also don't mind being alone in a crowd. Yes, it sounds funny, even ironic, but sometimes that's when solitude can turn into loneliness. I spend time alone in groups trying to watch and absorb how others interact. It's a great tool for a writer, but then I long for company or else solitary solitude.

I do enjoy my own company, but I also enjoy spending time with people, especially my husband and son, and friends and family who really know me and understand me. In a way, my "alone" time helps me reconnect with my books' characters and spend time with them. By extension, it means I'm spending time with readers who enjoy my books as well.

"Language... has created the word 'loneliness' to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word 'solitude' to express the glory of being alone."--Paul Tillich 

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