“Writing is a solitary occupation. Family, friends, and society are the natural enemies of the writer. He must be alone, uninterrupted, and slightly savage if he is to sustain and complete an undertaking.” ~ Jessamyn West (American writer, 1902-1984)
When I first read this quote, it brought to mind how many evenings and weekends I have spent in self-induced solitude, leaving family and friends to wonder if I had finally decided to disappear into my own head and become a hermit.
What can I say? I'm a writer.
My world isn't one that many understand. You other writers out there most certainly "get it". So do other "creative types". (I love putting that in quotation marks...it's like some tony little club we all belong to...except it also grants us that other moniker that often accompanies "creative" - weird!) I tend to live in a sort of surreal realm, where an idea often starts as a passing thought and blooms into something that claws its way free from the recesses of my mind to nag and niggle and poke until I put it down on paper, or sit down at my computer and let my fingers fly over the keyboard. An overheard conversation in a restaurant, a scent that triggers a memory, a song that evokes strong emotions. Pictures play in my head, scenes form, and before I know it, I'm locked away inside my imagination, and behind the closed door of my bedroom.
Solitude is key to spending time with my characters. It is also something that I need in large amounts. As a kid, I would spend hours and hours in my room, making up stories in my head, and later writing them down in notebooks. My poor Dad thought I was terribly anti-social, my brother and sister were convinced I must be adopted - Mom assured them I was not! (Did I mention that when I'm working out a scene, especially involving dialogue, that I often "act" it out - quite like an actor running lines.) In other words, I tend to talk to my self, in more than one character, which brings us right back to that "weird" thing again! (Think we could convince the rest of the world to just regard us as "different", or simply "eccentric"? Who's with me?)
So to all the writers out there with friends and family that are still trying to understand - take heart. You're not alone! *chuckle*
And to all the non-writers out there who have a friend or a family member who is one of those "creative writer types" - don't worry. We haven't abandoned you. We don't mean to snap when you knock on that closed door (though the sign that reads "DO NOT DISTURB - GENIUS AT WORK" should be a pretty glaring clue that we don't want to be bothered unless someone is actually dying), and we don't really mean to snarl when you open the door and say those dreaded words, "I just need a minute..." You see, to a writer who is lost in the world of his or her story, "just a minute" may as well be an eternity because you have now derailed our train of thought, and getting back into the groove is not as easy as one might think. (Ever try putting a derailed train right back on the tracks and sending it on its way? Exactly.)
So have a little patience with the "creative" types in your world. After all, they have much more patience with you than you think! ;)