Whilst away last weekend, I read an interesting article on solitude in The Australian Weekender magazine, by writer Nikki Gemmell. She says: ‘aloneness can have a vast restorative power … it’s a space for your mind to uncurl … in the lovely, glittery alone, a door opens to a possibility and it’s when novel ideas sneak in, titles roar with their rightness and surprising character arcs veer me back to excitement over a project that hasn’t been singing.’
Oh, oh, oh how those words resonate.
I have always been a creature as much at home with my own company as that of the world. For me, daily chatting over coffee, or going to noisy restaurants, to large parties or assemblies of people who bray and screech hasn’t really made my life sing anything like the silence of nature. And of course nature isn’t silent at all; its sounds act like a meditative mantra, lulling one into a perfectly receptive state.
That’s not to say I don’t enjoy meeting my BF’s for the occasional coffee and cookie and to hear what they have been doing in that big wide world out there; or that I don’t enjoy getting together with my husband and our closest friends for a regular 2×2 dinner for the very same reason. I do, naturally. They wouldn’t be my BF’s otherwise.
But on a daily basis, I am content to be alone (the dogs are part of that alone-ness) to achieve gently, what I want to achieve.
Gemmell said: ‘For grizzly old curmudgeons like myself solitude is never overcomplicated, stressful, loud – and most certainly never lonely.’
It’s a comforting state. I sometimes wonder if it’s essentially a state wished for only by introverts, because I am that, I know. In its own way, such a typecast has caused me no end of difficulty. But I’m now at an age where I don’t have to prove anything to anyone really, least of all that I need to constantly be a part of a society that is noise-some.
I remember jokingly remarking to someone once that in my old age I would be that eccentric woman down the road who lives with two overly communicative Jack Russell terriers. Not far off that now, I can tell you!
But back to Gemmell. She calls solitude ‘my brewing house for creativity, my Laboratrium of Wonder.’
I can’t help but agree. It’s a rare enough day that if I am ‘alone’, some tremendous idea doesn’t spring up saying ‘Look at me, look at what I can do for this story.’
* Nikki Gemmell ‘(born 1966) is an Australian author, best known for anonymously writing the best-selling erotic novel The Bride Stripped Bare. Gemmell’s narrative style has gained her critical and popular acclaim in France. She has been described as a “female Jack Kerouac“. In 2007, the French literary magazine Lire included her in a list of what it called the fifty most important writers in the world – those it believed would have a significant influence on the literature of the 21st century. She currently writes a column for The Australian newspaper.’ (Wikipedia)
Thank you once again, Prue, for pointing out another author I should read. 🙂
I said, only a day or two back on Angie Long’s blog (fedoralady), that I knew there was another reason (apart from my admiration of Richard Armitage’s work) to read some of these lovely blogs!
Ms Gemmell’s comment (and yours, too) about alone time is wonderful.
Obviously, I need a kick in the backside – I live alone so have absolutely no excuse whatsoever for not doing something I’m always meaning to do – write about my life and that of my parents for my darling little grandbabies. I’m 65 and started life in the bush in QLD – my kids say, “Mum was born before electricity was invented” because I didn’t live in a house with electricity until i was 12! They are now 41 and 38 and love hearing about those old days and just how different everything was then.
I am the world champion procrastinator! One day…. 🙂
Kathryn, hi! Don’t be too hard on yourself.
I find I have to DEMAND my solitude some days as real life tends to interfere. Take today … I had an afternoon of solitude and should have written 1000 words of G 2, but instead I wrote a blog on solitude whilst Nikki Gemmell’s words were fresh in my mind.
So much for the Laboratorium of Wonder!
But do write your book so that not just the grandies can read it, but we too. I for one, love learning how other baby-boomers grew up! Didn’t we just have the best life? Full of such amazing freedoms? Especially here in Australia … every freckle (and every skin cancer) tells a story of the most wonderful youth.
Sorry, I didn’t get back to you before this…and now it’s 11.35pm!
I’m thinking I might even buy myself one of those cheap little voice recorders I’ve seen in shops like OfficeWorks and Dick Smith’s. Maybe once I have a few dot points or even a very brief outline set up, I might see it as an easier task!
Thanks for the encouragement – my sister keeps nagging me to write something but, then, I remind her she’s 12 years older so she has even more to tell!
I must admit, though, that she has written some really great fairy stories for all her grandchildren and great-grandchildren (she started having babies very young!). She was having an artist friend illustrate them when I last rang her in Hervey Bay but I’m not sure how that’s progressing. I wish I could convince her to think about a $10-$15 a month internet package but she’s digging her heels in!
As I live in Canberra, I can’t really help her with proof-reading or any suggestions for improvements while she sticks to snail mail! I get that job when I visit her!
Must dash now as it’s getting rather cold – time to snuggle under the doona and listen to Richard Armitage read me LOTN…for about the 4th time! I love listening to his voice- it’s his best and sexiest asset IMHO 😉
‘night, ‘night as he says on Cebeebies!
Ahhhh solitary moments are what I wish I had more of… Sadly two young children and a puppy doens’t give me many. :}
Nikki has young kids too, Cathryn. It’s a tough balancing act but I’m lucky now because i’m at the other side of that. Now it’s just the dogs and the farm and gardens that interfere. The nice thing about them all is that they take me outside to where solitude is at its best.
You are so right, Prue (and Nicky). I find that time to myself every day is not only valuable, but essential.
It is essential, Gerry, isn’t it, if one wants to write?
But I wonder what others who don’t crave solitude think. Today I was driving home and every single person I saw was on a mobile phone and I thought how noisesome are our lives. Full of ‘yada yada yada’.
I refuse to give people my mobile number and generally leave the phone in the car unless I’m walking the dogs at night. I can’t imagine walking or being in the outdoors when solitude is such a boon, to have it broken by an eternal and infernal chatter.
At home when I am alone, I rarely switch on music, radio or TV (evenings only for an hour or two). The silence is pacifying.