Writing: The Solitary Life Doesn't Have to Be Lonely
Writing Doesn't Have to Be Solitary
We hear a lot about writing being a solitary life. I suppose it can be but I have found in the writing life a sense of comradeship among other writers, booksellers, teachers, children, and people I have met while researching and interviewing. Maybe because I write non-fiction and historical fiction that demand research I have been less lonely than fiction authors. Or maybe it is the lonely side of me that drives me to go out and find people.
Soon after I began my quest to be a published writer I joined a writer's group. That group lasted fifteen years. I feel a kinship to many of the writers I met in Bottomline Writers Group that I think will last forever. Some have moved away but we still exchange an email now and again to see what we're up to. Other writers I met online, some of whom I have later met in ""real life." I call them friends, because that's how I feel about them. They were there answering my novice questions and encouraging me to reach higher long before I was published. One of those online friends even became the publisher of some of my books.
People I have met to interview, and photograph their horses and mules, are now on my friends list. We run into each other at events, exchange hugs, and say "Howdy." We email, and we sometimes meet for coffee.
Another group of friends are bookstore owners. Writers appreciate booksellers, where would we be without them? I don't drive through Manteo, NC, which is near the setting of one of my books, without stopping in Manteo Booksellers and saying, "Hello" to Steve Brumfield, the owner, and sign copies of any books of mine he has on the shelf. Millie Cannon owns my favorite local bookstore, The Coffeehound Bookshop, in Louisburg, NC. I enjoy dropping in for Millie's wonderful coffee concoctions and conversation. Her support of my writing means the world to me. It seems every time I visit I meet someone new.
Two of my published books are children's historical fiction, set in colonial North Carolina. I am thrilled that both Pale as the Moon and An Independent Spirit are used in NC schools as supplemental reading in their history classes. That means I have the opportunity to visit schools and talk to the students and teachers about my writing. I often get fan mail from the children after my visits and teachers email me from time to time to talk about writing. You don't have to be a children's writer to have speaking gigs. Various groups, as well as schools, are always looking for speakers and love having authors to fit the bill. You may even get paid for your trouble, and at the very least you usually get fed. And, over refreshments you will have the opportunity to make another friend.
Maybe I am not the typical writer, holed up in a dark room pecking away at my keyboard in lonely silence. Even when I am home alone writing, I don't really feel alone. I have Barnie, my Jack Russell Terrier, snoozing in his open crate right next to my desk. If I get up to find a snack or check the news on TV he is instantly by my side, giving me a personal escort to whatever part of the house I go. If I stay at the computer too late at night he reminds me its time to pack it in. He barks until I realize he's been walked, fed, and has water, and he's telling me it's bedtime.
I can look out the window in front of my desk and watch all kinds of living things. Birds visit my feeder that I placed within camera range of the window, deer walk through the pasture, hop over the fence and into the woods, snakes sometimes slither by, and even a fox has crossed the driveway onto someplace important. When there are no wild creatures visiting I can watch the cows and calves grazing in the pasture. I seldom feel alone. I am so blessed to have all these friends, both human and animal, to keep me from being a lonely writer.
I trust if you are working at home alone as a writer or other job, take time out to find friends. Sometimes it takes an effort on our part to push away from the desk and go down to the local coffee shop for a break, or pick up the phone and call a friend. Invite friends over. Join a club or small group. Don't become a hermit and lose touch with the outside world. As a writer, you will miss good stories and character studies. You'll miss out on having good friends.