Pachie was our dog when I was a teenager. He was a spaniel-sized mutt with silky red fur, a plump puppy face even when an adult, and long singular strands of black feathers that draped over his ears. Pachie was my respite from teenage loneliness, always eager for a long walk, ready to plop on a bed at home. His best trick was to jump on me when I told him, “I’ve got the blahs.” Melancholy in his human litter mate would be wiped out by launching himself at me and covering my face with exuberant smooches. Seeing genuine sadness in me, which happened a lot, he’d respond the same way. The most loyal and loving dog, he read every family member’s emotional state and reacted with boundless affection.
When we brought home our first born son, I bent to show Pachie, now old and arthritic, the baby. He sniffed at his newest brother, then turned and walked right by my side to the living room. After that, he assigned himself as Noah’s guardian, and if you wanted to see the new baby, you had to get Pachie’s approval. He died of old age at eighteen on the Fourth of July, when our younger son, Ethan, was nearly one year old. No one was ever lonely for long with Pachie around and when he was gone, I grieved him for many years.
A fellow blogger and good friend told me her writing space is a dark corner in her basement. I burst out laughing. Writing is a lonely endeavor. Here we sit with our laptops in our corners and we talk to ourselves for hours and hours and hours. I work on my big desk top computer because it has an ergonomically correct keyboard that makes it easier on my carpal tunnel injured hands . The computer is in the middle of the living room. Awkward and ugly, but my plans to move it to a secondary bedroom are rough sketches and not action yet. Still, I talk to myself, literally out loud, talk talk talk, embarrassed when my husband walks in on me even though he’s used to catching me in writing mode. I’m not that interesting to talk to under the most social of circumstances, but when I write, it’s my modus operandi. Even when I talk-write, I’m a bit lonely. Wish Pachie was still by my side. (Hubby always leaves.)
Writing is an introspective endeavor. We plumb the depths of our minds, research the topics that interest us, consider the experiences that will inform our stories. It’s all about us, our intuition, our insight, our knowledge, our writing style, the characters we birth, the plots we plan, and the scenes we paint. Another cup of coffee and bag of pretzels, another page written – all that lonely work and sometimes we writers end up with the blahs. I suspect it’s the real culprit in the dastardly writer’s block syndrome that some suffer. We weary with the boring impositions we foist on ourselves. Listen to me talk to myself:
Are you home? – Sure, always. – Can I come over to visit? – Thought you were already here. – Yeah, but I decided I’d dress for the occasion. – Why bother, sweat pants and tee shirts have been fine all week. – Maybe I won’t bother to drop by after all. – Wait, I’m still here.
Are you nodding in agreement, this is your story too? Why would anyone want to talk with you when you don’t even want to talk with you? You’ve got to the change the dynamic in your life, infuse some excitement, import strategy, make life interesting so someone wants to spend time with you and give meaning to your life.
Here’s a plan, in fact a passel of plans to knock you out of your lethargy:
Get a dog. Take her for a walk around town and chat with everyone who talks to your dog as if you weren’t there.
Grab your laptop and sit at a coffee bar. Make eye contact with the person across from you, raise your paper cup, toast le chaim!
Sign up for an Emeritus class – hardly matters what subject, maybe something about writing or books or pottery wheel or Medieval music. Ask the person next to you if they’ve ever gone spelunking.
Join a writer’s critique group. Attend the meetings, crit the submissions, enter your own work, listen, learn. After the official group ends, stay and chat for an hour.
Start a blog, like this one, maybe better than this one. Post and reply. Scour for new blog ideas and share photographs.
Ask your friends over for happytizers and rum drinks. Surprise everyone with funny hats and introduce a game of book quotes.
Attend a writer’s conference. There is lots to do here, and networking is the most important – with fellow writers (who might read and review your book,) agents (who might become yours!) and editors (who might become yours!) Meet everyone and get contact info. Collect phone numbers, email addresses, Facebook info, LinkedIn contacts. Talk, write, email, tweet, and chirp.
Stimulate your imagination. Gather life experiences. Make contact with the human race, the doggie race, the alien race too. Use everything as an opportunity but nothing as an excuse. Make friends and connections. Nix the blahs.
Then sit yourself down in the loneliest corner of your basement and devote yourself to your craft. Write, for crying in the sink, write. Pachie is smiling down on us.