Believe it or not, I don’t spend all my spare time writing.
I don’t even want to spend all my spare time writing.
The reason for this is because writing is far too solitary a pursuit – the loneliest of all the arts in my opinion, due to it possessing the least impressive and share-worthy interim stages.
It’s not that I dislike spending hours a week on end alone hunched over the computer – are you kidding me? Introvert that I am, I f*cking love it.
But recently, I started thinking about the benefits cultivating interests involving others would provide. About how it might do me some good to spend time with real, living, breathing, well-adjusted people – people who aren’t the made-up, ‘effed-up characters who exist only in my head, or even folks who already know me and do more to enable my crazy writer ways than curtail them – before I all together forget how to not be a weirdo.
(I recently read an article the referred to this atrophying of one’s social skills as “feral cat syndrome”. The subject of the piece wasn’t actually writers but single women who live alone, but I am that as well, so now my risk is double!)
It’d be good to get out of the house, I told myself – to forge a few new brain pathways while trying my hand at something different. I’m not getting any younger, after all, so I gotta keep my grey matter in top shape.
Plus, meeting new people could result in experiences I could parlay into future novels. But wait – this was supposed to be about not writing! (Oops!)
One day out of life
All this to say I’ve been exploring different ways of expanding my extracurricular activities.
I briefly considered taking up a sport. But I already work out enough (too much some weeks, if my knees have anything to say about it), plus the sports that interest me most (tennis and martial arts) are at their core solitary ones.
I’ve lately also been looking to expand my professional skills, and to find a new volunteer opportunity in my community as well. Thus in a happy combination of all three endeavours, I’ve signed on with a volunteer organization devoted to promoting more balanced and accurate representation of women and diverse people in the media.
Admittedly, this still somewhat writing-related since books are a form of media. Plus I owe my being a writer to the success of my application due to my interest in historical narratives about women, my blog posts about gender issues and representation, and my fascination with fan fiction as a form of feminist media.
But regardless, the first meeting, held this past Tuesday, was going to get me out of the house and out of my head for a few hours, which was exactly what I wanted.
And so at 5:45pm on that hot, unusually windy day, I left work on my bike on a journey to the far end of town where the meeting would be held at 6:30pm.
And didn’t even make it through half an hour before the traitorous thought occurred: I could write about this.
And so the following bit of flash fiction (that’s not entirely fictional) was born:
What the water gave her that day, as always, though on a level ever lowering in the heat of summer, was a warm trickle down her throat and the promise of a colder, stronger but not-too-much longer later sprinkle down her sweating back and front.
But what the wind gives all of a sudden, either for once or for a start, is a push on her legs and lungs and wheels that struggle and circle like the turning of years. So long since she’s last been here, since he’s lived here, since she’s given of herself.
But as borders of the mind start to break down and the conquered can lay down their shields at long last, where the wind blows and pulls and pushes and lulls may wind up a wonderful place to be.
I did it because unfortunately – and fortunately – inspiration lives everywhere.
So no, I don’t spend all my spare time writing….
What do you do to help keep your social skills sharp? Tell me about it in the comments.