“We write alone. But we don’t have to be alone.”
I forget who said that. But it’s very true. Writing is a solitary experience. No one else can pound on those keys for you. You might be able to refine ideas with a group, but you have to come up with them. The fact that each writer has a voice means that only she can write a particular story.
And yet. And yet…
Most writers I know are introverts. That is, they need alone time. Need it like humans need oxygen. Like some people need chocolate — or coffee. Oh, they like parties and all, but there comes a time when you need to “shut the door” and power down.
One of the things that frustrates me occasionally is someone saying, “You can’t possibly be an introvert.” Why not? Because I can talk to strangers? Because I’ll stalk down that guy at Bouchercon who looked horribly familiar, just so I can figure out who he is? That would be being shy. Never said I was shy.
Bouchercon last October was an amazing experience. From the readers I met at socials, to the writers I met at the bar, the energy was intense. When I got home, all I wanted to do was work on my WIP (okay, right after I took a nap).
Same thing last week when Hank Phillippi Ryan came to town on her tour for What You See. Listening to Hank always energizes me, makes me want to jump back into my writing with abandon. And getting to share a glass of wine and a slice of pizza? Bonus.
And I love hanging with my critique group. Last night we went to a local library for an event, talking about our writing and our journeys. Our monthly sessions often encompass talking about family, friends, and life as much as talking about our submitted pages.
But here’s the thing. After all these events? I crave alone time. Just me, a bubble bath, and a good book. I don’t want to talk to anyone. Not even my family. My soul needs that peace to maintain my sanity. Too much running around is a Bad Thing. The holidays are killer. All those people. I was initially going to have a roomie for Bouchercon. I wound up being on my own, and it was probably the best thing for me.
The wonderful thing is that my writing tribe – my community, my “peeps” – get it. Many of them are exactly the same way. We have loads of fun together. And then we all want to go our separate ways.
We need social. Those hours we spend mired in our own heads, alternating between “this is great” and “I suck”? They are only alleviated by some community. Often other writers, but always people who care. Plus, social events are priceless, if only for the story ideas you can get while eavesdropping on conversations, or wondering what that person in the off-beat clothes standing off to the side is really up to.
Social is great. Just — don’t take it personally when, at the end of the day, I slink off to my hotel room for some much-needed alone time.
Mary Sutton | @mary_sutton73