Don’t panic, I’m human. I won’t hurt you, I promise. Just relax. Everything’s gonna be all right. I like being alone with my keyboard, in a barely-lit room. I need this, you know. But there’s no need to be afraid, I’m normal. I also enjoy the company of others. My balance is just different.
What are you doing tonight?
What are you writing?
I write stories, poems too.
Oh, you do?
Yeah, I write.
You should go out, it would be good for you.
What are you doing this weekend?
I don’t know, I don’t have any plans right now. But I don’t feel like going out, and then I have to write.
Do you have to write? What do you mean?
Well, I like to write. I spend a lot of time doing it. Even most of my free time. I love it. I don’t know how to explain it.
But what do you write?
I write stories, poems too. Personal stuff.
Oh, do you?
But what’s the point?
Maybe like me, you’ve had this discussion before. With a friend, a coworker, your father or your mother. And then you felt they didn’t understand you were saying. Your life as a lonely writer. Yet there’s nothing to understand.
My grandpa (on my dad’s side) spent a lot of time doing puzzles with thousands of pieces. I was 5 years old when he died, but I can still see him sitting at the dining room table next to the old piano. He liked to do things on his own too. He was a carpenter.
During the summer, my other grandpa loved fishing alone by the riverside, holding his fishing rod in his right hand and watching the cork float for hours on the surface of the water. He could sit there a whole day waiting for the fish. The rest of the year, every morning over breakfast, he would watch the birds peck their seeds in front of the kitchen window by pulling on his cigarette. He especially loved those moments.
My ancestors liked solitary practices. Surely I must have inherited some of their traits. I wish I knew what they were thinking about when they were going about their business. And then, maybe their hobbies were easier for those around them to understand.
What is sometimes tiring about writing online is that you often have to justify to people why you are not available. As if writing was something strange or a sign of trouble.
It’s never easy to answer a friend who offers to see you: “Um no sorry, I have a poem to write.”, or “I am very sorry, but I absolutely must finish this paragraph of my new story. See you next time?”
It seems that it is difficult for people to understand that you like to do things alone. Often they feel it’s a sign of unhappiness. It can be, but it’s not always the case. And we, as writers, find ourselves caught between pleasing ourselves by writing alone and pleasing our friend (and ourselves as well, of course) by accepting his invitation.
I’m someone who loves to be alone, and I’m not embarrassed to say it. I love spending time with others, but I also like to be with myself. It’s a vital need. But often that is seen in a negative light. People find it hard to admit that you want to be alone with your thoughts and words.
I’m thinking back to that quote from Sylvain Tesson. He wrote, in one of his books :
“J’ai découvert (si tard !) combien un homme seul était en bonne compagnie.” / “I found out (so late!) how much good company a single man was in.”
I’m glad, I’ve understood that for a while now!
Sometimes I’m like that woman leaning against the counter of that bar, lost in thought. I wonder about the meaning of it all.
I find myself uninteresting and untalented. I tell myself that other people don’t care about my stories and that it’s all useless.
I feel like a lost sheep. And then I remember why I write.
Anyway, I’m still very lucky. As I don’t write in my mother tongue, most of my relatives don’t read me. And of those who read me, most understand and support me.
What’s great about writing and publishing online is that we can support each other and learn from each other’s experiences. I don’t know if it’s better than writing a diary, but being read and getting feedback on what you write is priceless.
Dear readers, thank you so much for continuing to read me and for being so kind to everything I can write here. And for my writing friends, keep writing and enjoy yourself first. Because at the end of the day, we all know why we’re doing this.