I go for walks. I get up early. I read books. These are solitary things. Like writing is a solitary thing.
When I was a kid I read a lot. In my house everyone did. It was a survival technique. We all went off and read alone somewhere. It was how you got away from everyone else. So, for better or worse, I am well read and I yearned early on to become a grown-up who could write a good book.
That yearning was a solitary thing, growing like a sapling in the soil of other solitary things – the walking, the getting up early. These things are all part of my quiet inner self. They go together: the writing, the reading, the being alone and quiet.
The rest of my life is as noisy as anyone else’s.
I was on my standard 20-minute get-out-of-the-office afternoon walk yesterday and I was thinking about a writing competition I might do and of Twitter friends and of a press release I should do about my book – I am one of the legions of writers now tasked with getting the word out about our work.
Writing has become a double-job: you write and you sell.
When I was a teenager and doing my yearning I didn’t imagine the second part, the selling part. Other people did that. But they don’t do it anymore. They have abdicated.
And it’s okay – in many ways I enjoy the online life, the finding of people across the globe who respond in similar ways to the same 140 characters that I do and so on.
But yesterday I did wonder. How will this affect my writing, our writing? I am writing this blog post, yes, because these are my thoughts and I want to write them down, but also because blogs exist as a way of letting the world know who you are and what you are up to. I am writing this post as a way of filling out my online identity.
What would I be writing if I were still in solitary mode, if I were allowed to stay in that state of mind that thrives on walks and silence and other books? What would any of us be writing?
I thought these things with a sense of loss yesterday.
And then acceptance. This is the world in which I write. In twenty years it may well be different again and that too will affect the way I and we write. And I may find myself looking back on these years with some kind of nostalgia.
Outside my window it is just beginning to get light.