A recent thread on the Sisters in Crime list was sparked by a study announcing that women speak about 20,000 words a day, while men speak only a paltry 10,000. The implications for women writers were many—if we write all day and don’t speak those words to people, then we should be able to write a book in, say, a week and a half (not guaranteeing the quality of the manuscript)—thereby far outdistancing our male rivals, if that’s what they are. But the one idea that got me the most was a comment that it is hard to spend all day alone, with no one to talk to, as many writers do. Writing is essentially a solitary experience. The writer said she used to call her widowed brother in the late morning, and he would have to clear his throat because he hadn’t yet spoken to anyone that day. As a writer who lives alone, I identify with that.
Usually, during the week, I have lunch and/or dinner engagements with friends, and on school days, I have Jacob bounding in for a snack and homework. Then his mom comes to pick him up, and I get to visit with her. But on weekends, I often spend long days talking to no other human except perhaps a grocery-store clerk. And I admit it often makes for blue, introspective days.
I have plenty to do—always. Writing projects, marketing, all the things that go with being a writer plus bills, e-mail, Facebook, all the things that go with living in todays world and keeping a house and a life going. And in advance of every weekend, I tell myself I have lots to read. But I miss the human interaction that energizes me. And in truth all I can think is, “How much worse would it be if I didn’t write? If I didn’t have that to keep me busy?” I can’t imagine it.
The writer cited above did say it’s perfectly acceptable to talk to animals, and I surely was relieved to hear that. I talk to my dog all the time—and she talks back though unfortunately I don’t speak her language. She’s so expressive! I am desperate to know what she means and wants. When she was a pup, I hired a trainer who came to the house. He helped a lot, but he also told me not to talk to my dog unless I was giving a command. Well, I just couldn’t do that. I have a dog for companionship, and I am by golly going to talk to her. I aim long monologues at her, particularly when we sit on the floor together just before she goes to bed. I do think she may lose patience when I sing “Good Night, Irene” as I put her in her crate—where, by the by, she goes willingly for the night. It’s her safe place. And it makes me stop singing.
Aside from talking to the dog, one of my tricks for brightening the weekend is to invite company for Sunday supper. But this Sunday everyone wants to watch the Oscars, which bore me, so that doesn’t work. I am going to make a huge pot of Bolognese spaghetti sauce—if I freeze it, so be it. I’ll have a good supper Sunday night—and curl up with all those cooking magazines that arrived yesterday and I haven’t read yet.
How about you? Do you relish solitary days or find them a bit uncomfortable?