On solitude...by Michelle Buonfiglio
Buongiorno, Noodlers! Talk about rejuvenating and invigorating! I couldn’t be more honored to be visiting with you as part of Writers’ Health month. I mean, nobody’s more desperately in need of writers’ health tips than I…
See, there’s this time-honored maxim in the Buonfiglio family that speaks, I believe, to the solitary nature of the writer’s life, verily, our existence as humans who write because we’re driven to. Simple and succinct, the adage affirms thusly:
Bathing is highly overrated.
Now, I don’t mean to imply that any of you work for days on end in the same attractive pair of cut-off sweats and ratty tee-shirt or, I don’t know, pajamas, thinking you could go one more day without soap and water and could make that old ball cap become your lucky writing hat if need be, so the UPS guy doesn’t think your life is quite as pathetic – and unhygienic – as it really is.
But on the off chance that you do work that way – and your internal body-image mantra has become “does this chair make my ass look fat?” -- it means you spend days on end in your home, strapped to a screen. And probably you recognize what I consider the most insidious threat to writers’ health: Solitude.
Solitude isn’t terrible, in and of itself; Our comfort with it is part of why we’re good at what we do. But with solitude comes isolation, especially in the Digital Age. Not only do we focus our energy and what seems like our very souls onto the word-processing program, we focus that same intense passion into our hours “wasted” online and time spent returning those maddening emails in which nuance is rarely understood or communicated. The worst part of the latter is never feeling satisfied we’ve garnered the information needed to feel we’re “getting right” this thing we’re spending all our time doing in isolation.
Unfortunately, the digital relationship is rather one-sided; we end up in the unhealthy position of being the givers, yet don’t feel much love in return -- and even less of that vital elixir for the writer’s soul: approbation.
There’s a lot of shame attached to a writer’s need for approval, her wanting a pat on the head for work well done, and even work not yet done. Yet there’s nothing we need more when isolated than human connection and support or, short of that, the remarkable kind of connection the Internet’s allowed us to have with friends, as proved by what’s been created here at Wet Noodle Posse.
Ah, but how do we make the connections, or even allow ourselves to reach out and ask for friendship, support and approval when we’re so full of the pride that keeps us writing toward that next milestone?
Well, you tell me: How do you reach out and get the emotional nourishment you need? How do you reach out to others or recognize when a colleague needs a “connection?”