A problem of solitude

So, writing stories, it takes a lot of time, doesn’t it? Normally, a lot of time all on your own, thinking hard and scribbling away. A lot of time when you may not be actually, physically speaking to or making contact with very many people at all. When I first decided to give up my day job, I looked at all that time, and I laughed in its face.

Ha, I said. I love spending time on my own. Books and words will fill the gap fine, and when I’m not chained to my desk writing freelance articles or editing the same sentence over and over again, I’ll head out to spend time with the people I really care about. Perfect, I said, you won’t catch me complaining.

So now that I’m starting to question just how easy it is to deal with daily solitude, I can’t help thinking it serves me right, really.

On a day by day basis, it’s totally fine. I get loads more work done than I did when I was in an office or working at a cinema and I generally seem to be able to tick along fine. But on Sunday I was reading at the lovely Illicit Ink, one of my favourite spoken word events, and I noticed something – I was super nervous.

I mean, I always feel a bit sick before a reading, that’s not unusual. But I was at least three times as nervous as the last time I read, which was less than a month ago, and way more nervous than I was at the end of last year, where I was pretty much raring to get up on stage.

After worrying a little about the Rescue Remedy I was squirting into my mouth, I started to wonder if it wasn’t just the reading I was fractious about – but the fact there would be OTHER PEOPLE there. More people than I’ve spoken to in ages, seeing as most days, the only person I actually physically speak to is my OH.

I hadn’t considered this as a potential problem with my suddenly rather solitary existence, but it’s probably one worth working on. Unless I can just start doing readings remotely, via Skype or something.

8 thoughts on “A problem of solitude

  1. I know what you mean. My day job was teaching and because of the nature of some o the writing I do I’m sometimes invited into schools to run workshops, readings etc. It’s terrifying!


  2. I believe a useful addition to any writers’ assembly would be a non writer host who gathers and distributes people with gentle cues to get them mingling, cocktail party style. It is no good just telling writers to “mingle” they need a starter for ten.


  3. I unintentionally go for long periods where the only people I speak to are people who are paid to serve and be nice to me (I mean hotels, restaurants, taxis and stuff… not anything weird) and it’s a jolt when I have to make real human contact again.

    It’s nice to meet and speak to people, but I get uncomfortable before too long and need to seek solitude. Though that’s always been the case really – if some friends dragged me along to an Edinburgh club, my patience would crack at about 1am and I’d have to instantly say my goodbyes and enjoy the peace and quiet of the walk home.

    More worrying is that I’m steadily losing grasp of spoken English, as I hardly ever talk to native English speakers. Even people who didn’t start learning the language until they were 16 have pulled me up on my rubbish grammar and use of ‘do’ or ‘be’ in place of all other verbs. I’m worried it’ll affect my writing too, but from this example I perceive is not be concern.


  4. I definitely have the same problem. I feel considerably less articulate now that I work by myself than when I had people around me all the time – which is an issue when being articulate is your bread and butter. Or perhaps that’s more of a reflection on some of my ex-colleagues than it is on myself!


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