For Monday, January 4, 2016:
E. M. Forster, HOWARD’S END
A friend shared a meme on Facebook with me yesterday that is a perfect description of the writing life. The cartoon-type drawing from Snapshot shows a man at a typewriter, balled-up papers all around him on the floor and in the wastebasket. Below the image is a description many of us know well:
“The writer: Someone who spends a lifetime in solitude for the sake of communication.”
As an introvert and a writer, I understand and appreciate the irony. In fact, I’m willing to bet many of us writers are introverts. So how do we connect? Why do we even want to?
If you’re like I am, we love – or at least like – to connect with people, but for a limited amount of time. I usually spend most of my time as an observer, even in situations and with people with whom I am comfortable. I’m not being standoffish (or a wallflower anymore). In fact I make it a point to make eye contact with as many people as possible and smiling or saying a word or two.
Rather, I watch and record in my memory various interactions among all the others. Some of this is because I’m interested in people-as-people in something of a scientific mindset – how and why we interact with each other, or not – but I also want to remember as much as possible as fodder for fictional scene settings or possible character development in stories that are yet to be written.
The primary way we connect, of course, is through our words. Not only do we and can we connect with others, we also connect more with ourselves. Like the saying that we can’t love others before we love ourselves, so too we need to connect with ourselves before we can with others. We become something of a Moebius Strip, weaving in and out of our own psyches.
Isn’t that one of the reasons we write, after all? We need to observe ourselves, not as wallflowers but as active participants, and to do that, we need to write. We need to communicate.
We form ourselves as the foundation for our words, and from our inner selves we build that base. From there we can connect with others, and they with us, and then we aren’t so solitary anymore.