Writing Six Feet Apart

I suspect that many of the changes we are seeing are the unsteady steps to a new world. Many of us long for the quiet stability (with all its faults) of the old normal. I know that I do as well.

One of my little writerly secrets is that I love crowds. I love disappearing into their cacophony. As a child I used to sit just outside of the view of the adults when my parents hosted groups at our house. I think that they were mostly there to plan events for the Reconstructionists, but there was plenty of social talk as well. I didn’t exactly listen to their conversation so much as bathed in it, feeling the waves of it break around me, carrying comfort and excitement in safe little pieces.

Last year at GenCon I discovered that I still loved it. I still loved sitting quietly and writing while all around me crowds surged and retreated and surged again as if I were still floating in my parents’ living room half-listening to the adults. I wrote my stories there and was delighted that I could. It felt like a superpower.

In December I discovered that I loved train stations, for much the same reason. Crowds surged around me and it was endlessly fascinating, providing so many people and ideas to write about. I vowed then to spend more time in places like that.

Before the virus hit and everything closed down, I ran out to a coffee shop a few times a week, enjoying the surge of people around me and providing me with that combination of comfort and interest that made the writing a joy. A challenge I’ve faced writing since then is that my mind feels fallow without people interacting around me.

It will be a long time before crowds are safe for me and Steve again, so this life lived six feet apart from others is the new normal for us, as it is for many people. I’m fortunate that this new normal isn’t too bad for us. We are safe in a lovely house with plenty of food and wine. It’s a bit like an extended meditation retreat presided over by a mad gourmet chef who insists on baking bread. So not a bad thing.

As I learn to negotiate a quieter life, my writing is changing a bit. Perhaps, it will eventually become truer and deeper as I have to face myself without the pleasant diversion of a crowd. We’ll see.

I hope you are finding the advantages of a quieter life without crowds. I know that it is hard for the extroverts I know. And for the introverts locked inside with an extrovert I imagine it must feel a bit like having a very loud tiger pacing the living room.

Whatever it is for you, I hope that you are, like me, figuring out how to make a better life in this new strange world.

Be well, friends. And stay well.

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