Wednesday, November 11, 2009

the world within

My good friend Elspeth wrote an excellent post on her blog, It's A Mystery, yesterday in which she presented the irony that many writers face.
"I find it amusing that many introverts spend their days (or nights) writing about extroverts with lives crowded with incident," she says.
Writing can be paradoxically a solitary act and a frenzy of social activity, only the activity is going on inside our minds or on the page. a writer's service can also be simultaneously selfish and selfless. (I write for you, but first I write for me. I can't persuade you if I don't persuade me.)

Here is the response I posted in her Comments section:
When I'm not writing, I want to be writing. When I have nothing to do but write, I want to be elsewhere, with other people. And yet, when the writing is working and I'm in the zone, I'm not alone. I'm immersed in the world of my novel.

Sometimes I want to be living my characters' lives (I agree with you, though -- not their problems!). Career-wise, Andi was/is much further along than me, and at one time I aspired to have her career. I also think Sam was the husband I had wished for.

In our current manuscript, the protag owns a cafe, and there's a part of me that always fantasizes having a place like that, almost like a home. But, in reality, I could never take the work ethic or schedule required to run such a business!

It's fun to live vicariously, but it's also important to have that alone time. I live a lot in my head, but I also live in the world. Sometimes I'm just not sure which is which.

Coincidentally, following my nanowrimo post, a novel started unfolding in front of my mind's eye. Characters are speaking, introducing themselves to me and each other, plots are slowly forming. What am I supposed to do with this? Should I start writing it on the page? Should I keep mentally composing? I'm already behind in my day job (my 24-hr day job, it sometimes feels like), trying to salvage the rest of the semester, trying to keep my students on track, serve them first, trying to get Ordinary World published in paperback before Christmas. Can I commit to beginning a new novel when the third one isn't finished?

I crave my summer vacation already. I crave the alone time, days like today, when it's gray and rainy, days when there are no papers staring me down, awaiting a grade, no lessons to be planned, no emails in my inbox to be answered.

When I'm not writing, I want to write. When I'm not alone, I want to be. When I'm alone, I go to the world within.

Writers, I'm going to steal Elspeth's questions and pose them to you: Do you cherish your time alone and wish you had more? Would you want the lives of your characters? Or is just the price we have to pay for being writers?


Elspeth Antonelli said...

My God, I've been quoted! I can actually feel my head swelling...


Elisa said...

Get used to it...

Aimee said...

I have two little ones, so I always wish I had more time to write! I write best when I'm supposed to be doing other things. When I have time to write, I am sometimes speechless.