Adventures Of A Writer In The Wild
I’m sitting here alone.
A writer in the wild.
On a Wednesday morning I share a big wooden table with a group of writers.
It is located in a yoga centre in a small side street in the old part of Amsterdam. Usually there are several of us scribbling on block pads or bashing away at laptop keyboards.
Today is surprisingly still at the table.
Today, as with most days, I write in solitude.
It was a struggle to get here this morning.
My son injured his foot yesterday while playing at an indoor playground. He stubbed his toes on concrete edging.
The playground is in a disused car tunnel and a road runs down the centre of it, complete with guttering and a footpath. He jammed his foot in a slot in the guttering where the water would have run away from the road.
I was there when it happened and really felt his pain.
It appears that he may have broken his toe after a quick trip to the doctor this morning. The doctor fixed him and up and sent him on his way. Small boys are inordinately prone to all sorts of unusual injuries.
The damage is not permanent. He will survive.
This meant I was in a rush to get here this morning and at one stage didn’t think I would even make it.
It was resistance once again.
Given a chance not to do the work, not to write, I will jump at it. Thankfully my wife encouraged me to go. I was also asked yesterday to lead the writing session. So it was with added trepidation that I decided to come.
It would have been so easy to just blow it off. I didn’t and now here I sit. Except nobody else is here. I am alone.
It’s not a bad thing. It means I will write, which I am now doing. It means I will get something done. Being alone is not a problem.
You can’t write as a group. It’s an exercise for individuals.
Only you can put the words down. No one else can see in your head. No one else can read your mind. Even in a collaboration you have to write separately.
At least that’s how I see it
Sitting here alone is only difficult because I don’t have the strength in numbers.
Usually if there is a group of us we bar all outside contact.
The power to oust opposition is enforced by a representative force. A bunch of people doing something together always says more than just one person doing it.
And so it is that I feel slightly at odds with what other people are doing.
I fear that someone will approach me and try to talk to me which is exactly what I don’t want.
I want to concentrate on the page in front of me and not be distracted.
Maybe I can practice typing.
If I had that down I would be faster.
It is something my mother tried to teach me. So I guess am meant to do this. I am meant to write. It’s always been there.
Why didn’t I learn to type when I had the opportunity?
I started doing a writers productivity course a couple of days ago. The question put to me yesterday was also: why?
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I don’t think there was ever a time when I said that to myself. Not in my youth in any case. The actual decision is a recent development. I knew it all along. I have been doing it all along. I just never analysed it or thought that I should be doing it.
I suppose that’s what this is all about.
I have realised that I have to do it. I have realised that I should be doing it. I have no choice in the matter.
Now that I realise it I have to protect it.
At all costs.
It has taken far too long to come to the decision. I have wasted too much time. I don’t know how much time I have left, nobody does, so I must make the most of it.
When I started doing this seriously, about three years ago, one of the first writers I came across was Bruce Courtney. He has since passed away.
He discovered in his fifties that he should write.
He published a memoir of sorts which was quite successful. He then went on and pushed himself to produce one book a year. He realised his time was limited and that he would have to make up for lost years of production.
I think that one book a year is a reasonable goal. If you are doing it full-time then you should produce something every year. It is good business sense to regularly bring out new products. It will keep your readers interested.
I have just started building a fan base and have quite a way to go. But hey, you have to start somewhere.
The difficulty is that you have to start alone.
I don’t think I mind it.
I am a thinker. I am a day dreamer. I like keeping myself company.
It’s not that I enjoy being a recluse. I also need to be around other people. They provide the inspiration. I am nothing without the rest of the human race.
They are who I write about.
They are also who I write for.
However, the actual job of writing things down is solitary.
That’s not a problem, it fits me like a glove. I enjoy mulling over things. I enjoy exploring my own head. I enjoy creating. It gives me energy. But it is not a team activity.
It’s a one man show.
What’s great here in the yoga centre is that you are writing publicly which is actually kind of strange.
Normally you would lock yourself away as a writer. You are not on display. You are unseen.
It’s almost like it’s an opportunity for people to see a writer at work.
If we do it in a group it has strength. People respect what you’re doing. But it is not necessary to do it that way. Even now, I demand the same respect because the people working here know what I’m doing. They tiptoe around me. I am honoured that they do that. It gives credence to what I am doing.
I am an artist at work. A writer in the wild. A writer in his habitat.
In the past I would have had to cart around a typewriter. That would be more intrusive. It would certainly make it more obvious what it was that I was busy with. Now I sit here in front of a laptop. It’s a tad quieter yet people can see the words flying up onto the page if they care to look. They can hear the click of a keyboard.
They are respectful.
I suppose if I stopped typing then they would start to bother me. But because I am engrossed in what I am doing they leave me alone. That’s a wonderful thing. I like it. It fits me. It’s what I am.
An island spouting words surrounded by the hustling and bustling sea of the world. I am comfortable with that.
And so I am.
But then again.
Do you practice your creativity in public spaces?
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