Florence Falk, On My Own: The Art of Being a Woman Alone.
It’s early afternoon and I sit at my computer, ready to write. My house is silent. The boys have returned to their dad’s house. There’s no TV or radio in the background, no music playing. It’s absolutely quiet, calm, peaceful. And I love this, both the silence and the solitude. It’s something I crave.
It sometimes takes me by surprise how much I like solitude. I always think of myself as being at the far end of the extrovert scale. I love getting together with friends, meeting new people, and attending parties. I’m perfectly comfortable speaking out at a meeting or making a presentation. I quite like being in the spotlight. But when I find myself alone, when I have a few days off, as I do this week, I am perfectly happy to curl up on my couch and read, or spend an hour writing in my journal, or take the time to clean an overflowing closet. I am happy in my own company. And there are gifts for me in solitude and silence.
After a couple of quiet days, I feel a sense of peace. Silence and solitude, for me, are restorative. And as I live in that quiet space, I begin to hear my writing voice more clearly. I’m puttering, and reading, and journaling, and ideas start to percolate. I should write about this, I think, and soon sentences are composing themselves in my head. And then, new ideas arrive, for new pieces of writing, and I get to a place where I have to sit down and start writing.
I’ve been thinking about silence and solitude as I’ve been reading Susan Cain’s book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking. Why, you might ask, would a self-described extrovert pick up such a book? I can be the girl in the book’s title who can’t stop talking. But I’m also somebody who needs quiet to find balance in my life and to access my creativity.
Nonetheless, it came as a surprise to discover that I might not be quite the extrovert I’d always imagined. Yes, I can be right in the middle of it at a party, and I will probably never learn to think before I speak, and nobody has ever called me soft-spoken. But I love the act of writing, and I love expressing myself through writing. And I have my hermit tendencies, embracing long stretches of alone time. Susan Cain calls people like me “ambiverts.”
And all of this got me wondering about my fellow bloggers. At once we choose to express ourselves through writing, and probably need a fair bit of solitude in order to get that writing done, and yet we also write as a way to generate conversation, to generate a sense of community. We may produce in silence, in solitude, but we want neither in return. Ultimately, we are looking for interaction. And many of us spend at least as much time, and often much more, buzzing around the blogosphere, visiting other blogs, conversing with other writers. We are an interesting breed.
Where do you fall on the introvert – extrovert scale? What is it that motivates you to keep a blog?