Stay in my house, with my books and my tea and my chocolate? And I can still go out walking with the dog? Well, if you insist.
I just did a phone interview with Steven Acker of the Youngstown Vindicator, for their Saturday feature, which covers local writers, artists and musicians. Will most likely run this coming Saturday, March 28th. In the course of our talk, the question came—advice for young writers? And I said the usual—be a reader, writers write, digital publishing puts the writer in control at last, and social distancing/staying at home gives you more time to write.
But let’s be clear: there is always time to write. What a writer needs may not be time so much as solitude.
Was I more productive when I lived alone with pets—canary, guinea pig, horse—that lived in their own habitats and didn’t need to be walked? (Let's be clear--could not choose to interrupt me!) Working full time and writing at lunch and on breaks? Well, I wasn’t more productive when I was home writing full time. It was about the same. I still needed to have the discipline to actually sit down and write. Very easy to sharpen pencils or open a book "just for a second".
Not all time is created equal. Writers do not necessarily need social distancing to function, but they do need a dollop of solitude. It’s not about sitting down and staring into space, waiting for inspiration to strike. It’s the solitude of reading, meditating, walking, listening to music, pulling weeds, cleaning a horse barn, sitting on the bench of a weaving loom.
It’s not walking the dog, or riding the horse—those demand focus. It’s not—sadly—drop-spindling, because it’s too easy for me to spin while I enjoy a good show on TV.
I felt like I ought to respond to social distancing, so I signed up for Facebook. But you’re not going to find me on it much. (I don’t have a smart phone, so temptation isn’t constantly under my fingertips.) Pulling weeds opens up my subconscious and the ideas start to flow. Engaging with other people’s photos and memes…does the opposite. It’s a very nice pastime, in moderation. A writer needs to strike a balance, to find time to dream, to record the dream on the page, and polish, and publish.
Oh yes—and walk the dog.