On Solitude

This essay appeared April 21, 2012 on Meanderings and Musings

We writers have voices in our heads. It’s just a fact of life. The voices speak to us, we write their words on the page, and people read the stories and are captivated, drawn into a land of make believe.

All right. Let’s be honest and call this what it really is. Controlled psychosis.

You laugh, but think about it. Where else in the world are you allowed to let the little voices in your head control your thoughts, your words, and your deeds? Hmmm?

Most writers are loners, happily spinning yarns with their imaginary friends day in and day out. Some of us are extroverts, getting a rush from interaction, gratified by teaching, or simply refilling the well on a night out with friends.

I’m one of those bizarre introverts who can unveil my personality at will, as necessary, for groups. The public me is a version of myself, the me I want to be. It’s like actors on the stage, playing a role. Or, for those of us who are terribly shy, it’s a bit like going to war.

You embellish yourself a bit. So you can make it through the night. You put on pretty clothes – armor. You do your makeup and your hair – helmet. You take a pill or have a glass – shield. And then, head to toe in metal and mail, you swan about, hoping you aren’t putting your foot into it too badly.

But that’s life, isn’t it? We all feel that momentary cringe when we think we’ve said something off, or insulting, or embarrassing. 99% of the time, no one takes your words the way you think they came out. As a matter of fact, everyone is so busy cringing that no one really hears what’s being said.

I hope.

Many of you know that Randy and I recently lost our beloved kitten, Jade, aka Thrillercat. Things have been very, very quiet around here. I’ve always seen myself as a quiet writer – I like the silence of being alone with my thoughts and my laptop – but it wasn’t until Jade passed away that I realized just how much I talked to her during the day. I ran bits of dialogue past her, or ideas, or questions. And she sat there, quiet as a mouse, and accepted all my thoughts. It is so bizarre not to have that sounding board anymore. And it’s been lonely.

I’m starting the tour for my newest novel, A DEEPER DARKNESS, April 17. I will be strapping on my armor and sallying forth into the world to talk about the book, and hopefully not put my foot in my mouth too many times. But this novel is about loss, and since I’ve been experiencing so much of my own lately, I’m girding myself to speak in public about that very issue.

It’s the commonalities that make each of us connect with a book. Even quiet, solitude-loving writers need to come out of their shells every once in a while and connect with people. I hope to see you on the road. And maybe we can make each other feel a little less alone. 

If you're in Nashville, join me tomorrow at Parnassus Books in Green Hills at 1pm for a reading and signing of A DEEPER DARKNESS!