This distance from the world is even more pronounced because I have a limited amount of time to write. Between my day job, family responsibilities and commitments to church, it means that, when I have spare time, I’m usually cooped up somewhere banging stuff out on my keyboard–whether it be this article, critiquing friends’ work, getting out a short story that’s been rattling around, or getting on with edits to my novels.
Writing requires a lot of privacy. When I’m in the middle of a scene, or a chapter, I don’t want to be interrupted. I don’t want to be chatting with other people about what’s going on in my life or theirs, because I need to be focused on what’s going on in my characters’ lives, in my characters’ world. And I definitely don’t want anyone to read the words I’ve vomited onto the page in my first draft.
I was re-reading The King of Attolia, by Megan Whalen Turner, when I stumbled across a quote that resonated with me. “But there are other words for privacy and independence,” one of her characters says. “They are isolation and loneliness.”
Truly, there are days where isolation and loneliness seem to blot out everything I’ve managed to achieve, and everything I’m hoping to. Days when friends seem so far away–it certainly doesn’t help that most of them are a two-hour flight from here. Days when I wonder–quite irrationally, I might add–why another person in the world would give a damn about me.
I suppose that’s one of the dangers of the job. Spend too long in my little bubble, and I neglect the part of my soul that reaches into the spaces between and calls for someone, anyone, to bridge the other half of the gap. I neglect the heart that longs to beat in perfect counterpoint with another. I neglect the child who surrounded herself with stuffed toys and dolls and hoped that, one day, they would be real friends.
I think that child is still there, surrounded now by characters of my own creation–people with their own stories to tell, and most importantly, with their happy endings. I don’t know how long it will take me to grow up, and find the courage to step out again in this new place to find friends that exist beyond my imagination or beyond the book in my lap.
But I do know this much. It’s because of the friends I have now, scattered though they may be, that I’m still pushing on. It’s because of my family, no matter how much we may argue and misunderstand each other, that I know how irrational my feelings are (hey, INFP, that’s my excuse!). And for those small mercies… I am grateful.
Leanne Yong is an aspiring Aussie author who is working on her second young adult novel, when she’s not trying to do everything herself. Check out her blog at Clouded Memories for more information and a journal chronicling her latest foray into novel writing.