Okay, so yes, I’m writing this while watching Real Madrid play…again…it’s a different bar this time but that doesn’t make it any better I know, I should be indoors writing. If I stayed in the apartment I would have had the temptation of the F.A Cup on television to watch so either way, anything other than writing this blog was out of the question. The reason I came out to watch is quite simple, it’s nice to be around people, and I’m sure it’s the same all over the world, people get together to watch events, whether it’s sport or otherwise. It made me think of writing this blog on how it feels to be alone. I’m in a different country where I do not speak the language (I’m learning Spanish but that doesn’t help when the language is Majorcan, but more of that another time), I am not working (I haven’t got the cheek to call myself writing, working) and I don’t have any friends here. One more thing, it is very much what you might call, ‘off season’. The tourism period doesn’t start for a few months so the vast majority of shops, bars and restaurants are closed and the apartment blocks and resorts empty.
I think it is fair to say that it could become easy to feel lonely, not necessarily isolated because there are still the local residents and some bars to go to, it is certainly not deserted or anything like that. I have an uncle here who has been fantastic in helping me settle in and introducing me to his friends and places to go. But on the other hand, you could disappear if you wanted, if you stayed in your room then a hermit’s life is easily achieved. This is what I was after however, and I’m not backtracking on that, in fact, I got exactly what I asked for! It’s turned out great, I have all the time I want to focus on writing and all the space to relax and think.
The comment I wanted to make concerns the cheesy sounding feeling of not being alone, regardless of how quiet it is around me, because I have my imagination and my work to focus on. It is a very strange occurrence when you become absorbed into your work, not necessarily writing prose, but perhaps the creation of characters, the working through of a scene in your mind, the development of plot, fast and furious note making (and the immediate destruction of them), letting your thoughts roam and so on. You may start with a specific idea in mind, or you may have no clue as to where the next thought is coming from but it is great fun getting lost in that process. It sounds weird I know, but you feel both like you are working towards your goals which is pleasing in itself, but you also feel a sense of happiness in the creative process (frustration and disappointment too it has to be said, in probably a greater proportion!) And with that, you never feel alone.
I’m not crazy. I don’t think the characters or ideas I am working on are real, I don’t talk to them (well, actually that’s not strictly true, I’ll blog about that another time) but it does feel real, even though you are fully aware it is all ‘make-believe’. I walk through situations and problems, I enjoy the difficulty of staring at a blank page wondering what the hell is coming next, and because I don’t know what is coming next, that is why you don’t feel alone, it is like you are waiting for people to arrive, your characters or worlds are being built around you.
I’m not going to talk here about the need for physical company, of course I cannot claim that writing replaces having people around you, we all have the desire to talk, to laugh, to argue, to hold and be held, and that is something different. Maybe I’ll write another time about that. Of course, with writing you still need people, you need feedback, comments, editing, reviews, etc. but a vast amount of that can be done via email or online, yes it’s great to have a sit down chat about your work and get that face-to-face engagement, but it’s not always possible, even if you are in the midst of your friends and family, life can be busy regardless, so I will always make the time to engage with my friends online, both professionally and personally. With Skype, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and so on it is so easy to maintain relationships, you don’t feel cut off and that is a reassurance that I guess is always in the back of my mind. I know people are there if I need them, no matter that they are a flight away. I’m not at that stage anyway, I don’t need people to read my work yet (ahem, I still have to write it…), but I do need to say hello to my mum and know people are there.
What feels very comforting to me is let’s just say for the sake of argument, I am alone for the rest of my life. Yes not the nicest thought but let’s just say that to make my point, it makes me feel so much better that I will always have writing. I will always have my imagination to explore and in that sense, I will never be alone. I have watched and read many interviews with writers (and all different creative people) who are in their later years and they talk about the fulfillment they have from still having a working life long after the typical retirement age. We can write until either our minds or our bodies fail us and if we are lucky enough for that to be a long time, then I think it is a really positive and pleasant way to continue life.
So yes, I am away from my friends and family, and I miss them very much, but I don’t feel alone because I always have work to do!
Sorry I can’t quote all of the sources of these images but they were pinned to my “Bookshelves & Reading Places” board on Pinterest (http://www.pinterest.com/thinkingplainly/) and thought I’d share a couple of related ones with you ;)
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