As good Caleb scrapes around in the bathroom, grouting Friday’s tile, the sounds through the wall remind me of something that the music-less, TV-less room tell me every day.

Writing is a solitary act.

I’ve tried to write in company (advertising aside—the ad biz is an industrial work floor for many companies nowadays, with worker-bees in cube farms that permit no privacy whatsoever). I’ve tried to write with dear K in the next chair. Mostly, the attempt is an exercise in going through the motions. The real stuff, the deep, rich stuff, happens only in solitary silence; in the absence of any sound but the sounds of Nature and the singing of the words.

Makes me wonder why.

The people-being-around impossibility: Is it an issue for me as a writer, me as a female, or both?

As women, we are socialized from birth, it seems; raised to be gracious and accommodating, with one eye eternally canted to the comforts of whoever else is in the room. We are compasses fixed on the magnetic north of Other. We find our places in the world by where our companions are.

It makes writing difficult. Hell, it makes it impossible.

Do male writers feel this? Are guys as overly-socialized as we are?

Writing is tough enough. The brain looks endlessly for excuses to come up for air. That next cup of coffee to make, the fingernail to file, the fallen houseplant leaf to discard, the load of laundry to get started, the plant to water, the nosh to munch—there are days in which we’ll do anything to put off the slow climb down into the deep wells of ourselves. We don’t have the good sense to set the damned thing aside and walk away for a bit. We don’t have the sense to come in out of the rain.

That’s the toughness built into solo-ness. Add another breathing being and the problem is multiplied exponentially.

Silence is my treasure. In an otherwise open-handed life, I share it reluctantly. This gift of quiet alone-ness is one I give myself and the work. The product of Solitary is part of being the writer I am.

 

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