My A to Z Challenge theme is rather broad – anything to do with my writing practice really; be it the peaks, troughs or simply the things which have made a difference. Today I want to extol the virtues of having a cat and the effect it has had on my writing!
Last October after much deliberation, I decided to buy a kitten (Polly). I would have got one much earlier but for the fact that I live in a top floor flat with no garden access and I wasn’t sure whether it would be cruel to keep a cat indoors. Anyway, I went ahead in the end and have no regrets whatsoever.
Having Polly has grounded me, fulfilled (in part!) my maternal instincts and also helped immensely with my writing. Before I got her I socialised a lot and spent few evenings at home, and yet I continued to have this aching feeling that I needed to be in solitude as I wanted to develop my writing. I suppose by going out so much, I was running away from what I now feel I was born to do, partly out of fear that I wasn’t good enough and so I’d be wasting my time, and also because I recognised the amount of work involved, and wasn’t sure whether I was up to it. Now, however; I no longer feel that way. When I see Polly sitting all Zen-like on her kitten tree, it makes me want to slow down and spend time with her. Now I like nothing better than to open my laptop and get going on a short story, piece of flash or blog post, with her snoozing nearby.
My way of life has changed significantly over the last few months and even though I’ll never stop socialising, my priorities are definitely different now, and Polly has helped a great deal.
Continuing on from my previous post, Writing and Solitude, today I came across an article in The Independent newspaper, entitled Illustrator captures the simple joys of being single, about the work of Idalia Candelas, A Mexico-based illustrator who has drawn a series of sketches of women (‘Postmodern Loneliness’) who very much enjoy being alone.
This whole solitude thing is somewhat preoccupying me at the moment as I know that in order to commit to writing, a substantial amount of my time must be spent alone. This is something that bothers me slightly as I’m single and therefore feel I should be out and about meeting new people, rather than holing myself up inside. However, I have to say that even though I’ve always resisted solitude, it is something that I now actually relish and I feel that these beautiful sketches express the idea that singledom and the natural solitude that comes with it can actually be a lovely thing.
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.