Guest Post: Susan Wingate: “Spending Time Writing, Spending Time Alone”

SPENDING TIME WRITING, SPENDING TIME ALONE
by Susan Wingate (author of award-winning novels DROWNING and BOBBY’S DINER)

In Fantasy: Writing alone = Heaven
In Reality: Writing alone = Heaven

In Fantasy: Being alone = Heaven
In Reality: Being alone = Loneliness

For years I’ve told people how much I love being alone. And, if you want to know the truth of it, most of the time that’s the way I feel if we consider other people — those others “out there,” outside my home — friends, family members not included in my immediate world — those people would never have to invade my life at all, if I were to truly desire to remain alone.

The fact is this, when I’m completely alone, without my husband, sister or mother around without those people I love, my life is empty and sad. I tend to feel this way when it comes to close friends too. Those people, your buddies, you can call at eight in the evening and drink a glass of wine with while you chat.

Still, as we age, we learn the true meaning of loneliness. I never had children as a young woman. Never wanted children of my own. My husband, Bob, has three — a son and two daughters. From these children we now have four grandchildren, soon to be five. A sense of warmth and blessing comes from these kids. Even though they aren’t mine. Which makes me wonder how deeply the parent-child feeling goes with your own biological children. Deeper than the earth’s core, I think.

Most of my days I spend by myself, working out of the house. Not totally alone, of course. I have my critters about who keep me company — my dogs and cats, my birds and the wild animals that traverse our five acres of county-deep property. But something wonderful happens each day that makes me understand what humanity means. Each day, after leaving nearly ten hours before, my husband comes back home. Sometimes he returns happy, content, silly. Sometimes he returns overworked, laden, sad. Yet, however he returns, my life brightens. The blinders fall off my eyes. I can see the day. Work feels somewhere behind me.

As a writer, we must spend time alone to work, to visualize, to create. But, as human beings? We need people to interact with. And, when we feel the thrumming aversion to social interaction, we humans must put on a character (where without that character we might shrivel) and we must step outside our comfort zone.

Because, honestly, if we don’t, how will we write? My best moments, I feel, are moments I’ve spent  watching someone else or with someone else. Sometimes, funny things happen when other people enter the scene. When I think back on times when funny things have happened and I was alone, these moments feel frustrating. I want to call someone, tell someone what just happened. That speaks volumes.

See, people need people. It’s a simple truth. We have the same bodies. We are made of the same spirit, if you will, and are completely connected by God, for me, by some other higher being for others. But, we’re linked by something much larger than ourselves.

Try and think of it this way, if a friend or family member calls you, it means a few things — one, they thought about you; two, they want to hear your voice; and, three, they love you. But, it also means, when you remove yourself from their lives, they miss you.

For more information about Susan Wingate:

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