If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

WWK's May interviews will be: 5/2--indie author Bobbi Holmes, 5/9--TG Wolff (aka--Anita Devito), 5/16--Chocolate Bonbon author Dorothy St. James, 5/23--Lida Sideris, 5/30--Food Lovers' Village (and multiple Agatha winner) Leslie Budwitz. Please join us in welcoming these authors to WWK.

Our May Saturday Guest Blogger Schedule: 5/5--John Carenen, 5/12--Judy Penz Sheluk, 5/19--Margaret S. Hamilton, 5/26--Kait Carson.

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Tina Whittle's sixth Tai Randolph mystery, Necessary Ends, debuts on April 3, 2018. Look for it here. Tina was nominated for a Derringer Award for her novelette, "Trouble Like A Freight Train Coming." We're all crossing our fingers for her.

James M. Jackson's Empty Promises, the next in the Seamus McCree mystery series (5th), will be available on April 3, 2018. Purchase links are here.

Dark Sister, a poetry collection, is Linda Rodriguez's tenth published book. It's available for sale here:

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Look for E. B. Davis's interview with the authors in this anthology on 4/14! Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.

Shari Randall's second Lobster Shack Mystery, Against the Claw, will be available in August, 2018.

In addition, our prolific KM has had the following shorts published as well: "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017 and "Turkey Underfoot," appears in the anthology The Killer Wore Cranberry: A Fifth Course of Chaos.


Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Importance of Solitude

Be Still and Know That I Am.
Proverbs 46.10

Growing up with four siblings – five after I got married – as well as living near cousins. You would think there wasn’t much time for being alone. But I lived in the country next to my grandparents’ farm in a time of no cell phones and no TV until I reached my teens. Although I spent a lot of time with the brother closest to me in age and various cousins who lived near, much of it spent on the farm, I still had alone times; times I cherished. I was a reader and often curled up in a chair reading alone in a room. Sometimes in the summer, I’d climb an old hollow willow tree beside my grandparents’ house and in the crook of that tree, I’d read out of sight of everyone. As a teenager, my group of friends and cousins were often together. We played softball, kick the can and other games. My girlfriends and I formed a group called “The Crazy Teens.” Not that we were crazy by today’s standards. But I also took solitary walks through the fields resting on a log at the top of a rise in a boundary line of trees. There as a teen, I wrote poetry. Or in my room I wrote short stories.
One of my gardens where I work in solitude.
Today people live in a busy connected world; a world of cell phones with people constantly talking to others or texting or tweeting. How often in a store have you turned thinking someone was talking to you when they were on the phones or even more the person walking around seeming to talk to themselves when they have a blue tube in their ear? And if we’re not talking on our phones, we’re emailing others or checking Facebook. Those who work with others are even more connected with little alone time.

I am a social creature. Most of us are. I easily chat with people I don’t know in line at the grocery store. I’m interested in people. I enjoy getting together with others at my book clubs or writers groups. I like my Mobile Meals people; both the other volunteers and the people I deliver to. Sunday Mass is special to me; sitting with people I know, the music, the rituals that I’m comfortable with as well as the sermons and scripture readings. I enjoy when my siblings and I get together for a meal, maybe a DVD and always the laughter and talking. I enjoy my children and grandchildren, and reconnecting with old friends. That’s why my siblings laughed when in a previous blog I mentioned that I’m a bit of an introvert.
A morning walk with my Maggie

However, the times I’m most at peace and content are when I’m alone. I like my quiet morning walks in the woods in mostly silence except for the sounds of birds, the rustling of leaves by my feet in the autumn, the occasional bark of my collie when she’s treed a squirrel, the sound of traffic in a distance with no horns honking on my country road, but only a soft swish coming and going like the sound of waves on a shore.

Today solitude is becoming rare and appreciated by only a few. Many people equate solitude with loneliness. They think those who embrace solitude are sad, depressed or antisocial. Alone has a negative connotation for many. Society sometimes scoffs at the loner, but, in fact, solitude can be healthy both physically and psychologically. It’s important to our well-being. Being able to enjoy and appreciate solitude is an important skill to possess.
My little goldfish pool near my patio is soothing

Studies have shown that periods of solitude are strongly beneficial to personal development. Author Susan Cain found that people working alone often tend to achieve better results than those in groups because original ideas get lost in groups. Researcher Bethany Burum of Harvard also found that simply being around other people causes our minds to become preoccupied with their thoughts as we wonder about what they think of us, etc. She also found that those in her study tended to have stronger and clearer memories when alone than those with other people in the room. Other things discovered in her study found that cognitive and emotional processes benefited from solitude, too. People, who had more solitude time, showed more empathy for others. It is also important for finding one’s self when everyone else is gone.

The most successful painters, musicians and writers often find or found their inspiration through solitude. That’s why I can’t understand those who find their best writing is done in cafés on a laptop surrounded by people and noise. It must work for them, but I need silence. I turn off the radio after the morning news and work and write in silence. I know I’m luckier than most because I have that option. I’m retired and except for assorted critters, I live alone so I’m blessed with the solitude I need to write. Does it make me a great writer? Smile here. No, but it makes me better than what I would be if I had to work around people. In fact, when I’ve been in a writing class or a workshop where the participants are given a prompt to write to with other people around me, I freeze up. I’m lucky to come up with one pathetic paragraph when the time is up. It only makes it worse hearing and seeing other people scribbling away putting lots of words down.

Do you treasure your times of solitude?

Are you able to concentrate and work well with others around you?


James Montgomery Jackson said...

I am an introvert and need times of solitude to recharge. Fortunately, I am also a morning person and arise before others so can get my daily bit of quiet then.

I prefer quiet when working. I can work through noise around me, although sometimes I need headphones and ambient music to help.

When I am at my northern home, it is easy to get away into the woods and be one with nature. In the city it is more difficult, but still possible to find.

~ Jim

Gloria Alden said...

I totally understand you, Jim. I can only be with large groups of people i.e. weddings, parties, etc. before I feel a need to leave. I'm usually one of the first ones to leave.

Annette said...

Gloria, I agreed with everything you said. I love socializing, but I NEED solitude. As Jim mentions, it helps me recharge.

But when you talk about freezing up in workshops when given a writing prompt, I nearly jumped out of chair and shouted, "AMEN, Sister!" I thought I was the only one!

E. B. Davis said...

Solitude. What's that? When I evaluate the work I need to do, I require at least a weekend to myself. Doing revisions piecemeal doesn't work. One full weekend to myself would be such a windfall, but I know it isn't to be. I will have to use my piecemeal moments to revise--even though I don't think it will do the trick. Frustrated.

Margaret Turkevich said...

I value my solitude, while I'm writing and also when I'm out walking with the dogs or working in the garden. I never stop thinking about my current and future writing projects; moments of inspiration or a solution to a problem come when I'm weeding or pruning.

Gloria Alden said...

Annette, did it upset you, too, when everyone else seemed to have all these wonderful ideas as they scribbled away while you sat there almost in a comatose state? :-)

Like I mentioned, E.B. I'm lucky that I do have more solitude now, but it wasn't always so in my life. Someday, hopefully, you'll get more than bits and pieces of it. I'm glad you are able to use those piecemeal moments to write.

Margaret, that's so true for me, too. Some consider weeding boring work, but not for us. It's when we're doing work that doesn't require much thinking that we come up with our ideas. Even more so while walking in the woods. Dogs don't chatter away and distract us, do they?

Annette said...

Yes, it did, Gloria. Everyone else was brilliant and I was the class idiot. ;-)

Gloria Alden said...

Annette, that made me laugh. Nothing could be further from the truth. I love your books. :-)

Annette said...

Aw, thanks, Gloria!

Alyssa Maxwell said...

I'm also an introvert in that I need to be alone to recharge. I always marvel at those people who can work at Starbucks. When I write, I don't even like to have music playing. And I love sit outside in the early mornings with my coffee and just watch and think.

Warren Bull said...

I had solitude by the bucketful when I wrote my dissertation, finished my first novel and made major revisions to my work in progress.

KM Rockwood said...

I appreciate solitude, but I am also pretty tolerant of crowded surroundings.

My family had a 4 room house, later adding an attic bedroom, until there were 6 kids in the family. My first grade class had 49 kids in it.

I think those experiences led me to view solitude as a luxury, and now that I can have it, I enjoy it all the more.

Gloria Alden said...

Alyssa, I don't have music playing when I write, however when I settle into my nesting chair at night to read, I usually have a CD playing music I find relaxing.

Warren, that's why you were able to be so productive and do a good job of it.

KM, I can be tolerant in crowds at airports, stores, parades, etc., I don't even mind being a crowded airplane, either. But still I'm the most content at home alone

Shari Randall said...

Oh, boy, did you hit a nerve when you mentioned writing prompts - I can't imagine anything more terrifying that having to come up with a coherent piece of writing in a group. Yikes!
I am very easily distracted. I write best in a dank, one person study carrel at the local library. Writer's jail! I don't understand how people can write with music or at a coffee shop. My kids are always teasing me that I can strike up a conversation with anyone. Coffee shops would be too much temptation, social and otherwise.

Gloria Alden said...

Shari, you sound so much like me. I'm glad that I'm not the only one who enjoys visiting with people, but can't write with people around me.I really think that probably the most productive writers, painters and poets worked alone.