I’m a quiet person, an introvert I suppose. And yet I have many friends, adore parties and need to be with people regularly. It’s a dichotomy really. But over the last six months, since I began to make small changes to my life in order to focus more on writing, I’ve spent a lot more time than I previously did sitting in silence. I say silence, but there’s never absolute silence. Right now, for example, I can hear a ticking clock, singing birds and distant cars from the main road a few minutes away, but there’s little noise.
I need this virtual silence in order to be creative. I’ve tried working with music or the TV on in the background but all it does is distract me. Ideas, for me, can only flourish in soils of silence.
This week is the second week of my flash fiction course. It’s challenging but stimulating as every day we have a short assignment. As I’m in a different timezone to most of the other participants, I find that I’m posting my work slightly later. This isn’t a problem but I do find myself feeling slightly anxious when I can’t think of anything to write, which was the case this morning. When this happens, I make a coffee, open my laptop and lie back on my beanbag. Then I start to think, in silence and eventually a story begins to form. The writing process is magical and its main ingredient is silence.
I’ve been fighting it for ages – this whole commitment to writing thing. Up until recently I was merely dabbling in it, sitting on the fence if you like, and the reason why has only just become obvious to me; namely that by taking my writing seriously I would in effect be signing up to a life of solitude and that scared the hell out of me.
It’s weird really as I’ve always been a quiet introvert at heart, yet many people who know me probably don’t realise that. Quiet maybe; introvert, definitely not. This is mainly because I’ve spent the vast majority of my life doing extroverted type things. I’ve travelled extensively and have lived in five different countries. I’ve had numerous hobbies and adventures and am lucky enough to have a wide circle of friends. However, whereas I’d not too long ago be out most nights, what I actually prefer to do now is relax on my sofa with my kitten and write. I don’t want to go out when I could be working on my craft and as a result, I’m starting to see the benefits.
I feel immensely satisfied when I produce something of worth. Of course it doesn’t always happen but it’s becoming more common than it once was and that I believe, is down to the time I spend writing in solitude. I don’t want to become a reclusive hermit but I can also see the necessity of spending time alone in order to achieve. Although it’s terrified me in the past, I believe I’m ready for it now. I don’t think I’ll be happy unless I pursue my dream of becoming a successful writer and spending time alone is essential for that.
I was once almost ashamed to admit I was an introvert who often much preferred staying in alone than going out with friends as it seemed a very uncool thing to do, but I feel different now. Is that to do with age or is it more to do with knowing yourself better (and consequently what makes you happy)? It could be that the two go hand in hand.