On a Day Without Rain or Writing

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.

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8 thoughts on “On a Day Without Rain or Writing

  1. You’re looking for well adjusted people? if you find them, run. They are part of the invading android vanguard.

    To keep my social skills sharp, I sit alone in the basement and figure out how to say things in under 140 characters. I’m not sure my method is effective.

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  2. Hi why not try a group sport, kayaking on Thursdays at deep cove or coed running frisbee. Curling in the winter, all very social take care. Or cooking classes in west van or close to home. All good, fun! Take care Lis Ebba

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    • Cooking classes is a great idea, Lis! They all are except perhaps the frisbee – I’m having flashbacks to my brief stint as an Ultimate Frisbee player. Those were fun but hazardous times; I tasted my own mortality more than once. No way I could ever do that again; I want this body to last me into my old age! 🙂

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  3. I’m thinking of taking up golf as a sport, Janna. I’m not sure I’ll be any good at it, but it seems like a ‘soft on the limbs’ type of sport 😉 In the meantime I’ve taken a part-time job writing blogs and articles for government websites. I work from home so it’s ideal for me (but not that good for getting me out of my introverted lifestyle).

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    • Golf sounds like a good way to get out and be social and counter the isolating effects of your blogging job. I think golf probably is easy on the limbs but also challenging to the mind (a good thing) since mastering the swing apparently requires a degree of precision.

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  4. Nice post, nice piece of flash fiction Janna. I’m perfectly content not to sharpen any social skills I may have. I joined a local writers’ group recently but rarely engage. My first reaction to an invitation is ‘how do I avoid?’ Running must be the most solitary sport there is – but I enjoy a group run so maybe there’s hope for me yet 🙂

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    • Thanks, Roy. I think group running sounds perfectly social. I try to say yes to at least as many invites as I decline for fear that if I refuse too many, they’ll stop coming all together, which I don’t want.

      Maybe just give the writers’ group – and yourself – some time. I was in my group for almost a year before I felt comfortable engaging, which really only occurred after the original organizer left and I took over and completely restructured the format to encourage participation from everyone.

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