I never said, ‘I want to be alone.’ I only said, ‘I want to be left alone.’ There is all the difference.
– Swedish-American actress and singer Greta Garbo was born on this day in 1905 (died 1990)
See? What have I been saying this week?
Yet another misattributed quote. Most folks would say they’re quoting Garbo when they say “I want to be alone.”
Garbo would disagree. Well, she did anyway. She may still. I’m not her judge.
As an introvert, I know this phrase.
There are times I just need to retreat from the crowd.
So, much to my wife the extrovert’s disappointment, when I’ve spent the week at the office and the evenings at rehearsals, I’m not inclined to jump at the chance to go to a social gathering.
That’s not exclusive. Sometimes I want to go. It just takes energy.
And while my natural preference would be to park in front of the computer with a bottle of red, or land in the comfy chair with some pizza and a movie, getting out does me good.
Getting away from pizza does me even more good.
I know that.
Still, as a writer, there are times I need to shut myself away and just put the words together. The earlier this week mentioned writing in the coffee shop or Chick-fil-a isn’t the serious writing. I would likely not work on an article for a client in that setting unless I had no choice.
When I’m writing fiction or my own opinion, or even this blog (which may be both), I can have some background music and other distractions. And I actually need those when I’m doing graphic design.
But when I’m putting together an article for a client and need to make sure I’m accurately quoting her or accurately describing his business, I need more concentration.
And, that requires being alone. There’s nothing wrong with that.
“So okay – there you are in your room with the shade down and the door shut and the plug pulled out of the base of the telephone. You’ve blown up your TV and committed yourself to a thousand words a day, come hell or high water. Now comes the big question: What are you going to write about? And the equally big answer: Anything you damn well want.”
– Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
It’s a matter of balancing the times I need to be alone to work or recharge with the times I need to spend with family or friends. Or at church. Or rehearsal. Or wherever.
In full disclosure, if you visit me at my day job, you’ll find me in my office with the door closed. Not because I don’t like my coworkers. It’s because some of them are loud.
Whether your a writer or not, if you’re in the creative arts you likely need that time alone to create, to write, to paint, to compose.
Carving that time out of the day can be a challenge.
One I generally meet by getting up before the crack of the Dawn of Civilization. It’s just a realization that, if it doesn’t happen in the morning, it won’t happen.
There’s nothing wrong with needing to be alone. Sometimes it’s healthy.
Just maybe not in a Robinson Crusoe kind of way.