Company in my Solitude - Mari Biella

I’ve always been a bit of a recluse in my heart of hearts. I don’t like social occasions much, and only just about find them tolerable with a drink or two inside me. I don’t like big crowds and noise. I prefer to connect with just one or two people at a time and, even then, a little bit goes a long way. Some people, I’ve found, consider this odd, but I really don’t think it is. It’s just the way I am.

The Hermit. Image credit: Nicholas Conver | Wikimedia Commons

My reclusive tendencies are probably exacerbated by my being a writer. Some people claim to be able to write while sitting in crowded cafés or in between chatting to friends. I’m not one of their number. If I’m going to write something – or at least something that stands a chance of being even remotely good – I have to lock myself away in my writing space, shut out the rest of the world, and enter into that private, quiet space that exists in my own mind, where stories gradually coalesce, take shape, and occasionally unravel.

It may be a matter of past habits becoming ingrained. For various reasons, I had a rather lonely childhood. Perhaps that’s where it all began for me; I found that I could conjure up friends in my imagination, friends who were actually rather more reliable than real people, simply because they never left, never let me down, and never overstayed their welcome either. I made up stories about those friends in my head; eventually, I started to write those stories down. Things just progressed from there, perhaps.

I’m still writing down stories about my imaginary friends – and it’s still a pretty solitary business, on the whole.

My writing space

Even the most reclusive writer needs a bit of company, though, and the internet has been something of a godsend in this respect. Log on to Facebook or venture into the blogosphere, explore for a bit, and sooner or later you’ll probably find people who are at least a bit like you. People may bemoan the internet’s effect on social interaction, but it’s possible that we’ve gained just as much as we’ve lost. For the first time in recorded history, our circle of acquaintances aren’t limited by geography and chance; we can search for likeminded people amongst the millions who have an online presence, and stand a very good chance of finding them.

Joining Authors Electric was a blessing for me. I was at something of a crossroads at the time, unsure which way to take, and feeling a bit lost – and, yes, isolated. Being a member didn’t solve my problems for me, but it did help me to feel that little bit less alone while I sorted them out for myself. I had people to talk to, a sense of being involved in a dialogue of sorts. I was connected with other writers, people with similar experiences – some, indeed, were so experienced and so qualified that I felt like a newborn compared to them. They all, however, knew what it meant to write, in a serious and sustained way, and how it felt to care so much about the result.

I’m leaving AE this month. My life has been getting steadily more hectic over the previous months, and has finally reached overload. I need to simplify my life, cut down on my commitments, devote myself to what is truly necessary. Perhaps I need to crawl back to my hermitage and stay there for a little while. Sometimes you feel expansive, and sometimes you just want to be alone to think things over. When things calm down a bit, and if there’s an opening, I’d still quite like to rejoin.

Either way, I’m grateful for the time I spent as a member of AE, and for the way I found some companions in my solitude. It helped a lot, and I can only hope that perhaps I helped a little bit in return. It’s good to have people to share your isolation with.

Thank you all!


Wonderful expression of my own feelings, Mari Bella. Thank you. It's good to know we're not alone. Wishing you happiness and renewal in your hermitage! From mine to yours...
Love Pauline x
Umberto Tosi said…
Though I try my best to be companionable and social, secretly, I do love my solitude - except perhaps when my demons show up and bring writing to a grinding halt. Thank you for another poetic, lucid post. Yes. It's good to share!
Chris Longmuir said…
I think I must share a lot in common with you, Mari. I also had a fairly lonely childhood peopled with imaginary friends. I'm afraid I was extremely shy with a with a terrible inferiority complex. I've overcome a lot of that now but the inferiority complex still lurks there and often gets in the way of my writing. But my imaginary friends are there to rescue me, and like you, I find them in the solitude of my study. Although I must say your writing space is far tidier than mine. Good luck with your future projects and don't be a stranger. Oh! And come back to us when you are ready, I'm sure we'll keep a place warm for you.
Bill Kirton said…
Like Chris and the others, I found myself agreeing with everything you said about needing quiet space, avoiding socialising, losing myself in my fictions. Mine, though, must have come from a different source because I had a very happy childhood being the eldest of six and the freedom to do more or less what I liked. Some people seem to think that spending most of the time on one's own must be lonely - on the contrary, solitude is a very different condition. I love it.
And we'll definitely miss you, Mari. Do keep in touch.
Jan Needle said…
Bill K says: And we'll definitely miss you, Mari. Do keep in touch.

I'd like to endorse that.
Lydia Bennet said…
You will be a big miss on AE, Mari, you were one of the most supportive members and always wrote great posts! Gosh your writing space is tidy and austere, mine is a corner of chaos in my house! Solitude is a gift, I'm very sociable but have grown to need more alone-time amidst it all as time has gone on. Good luck with all your doings and do keep in touch via facebook. x
Dennis Hamley said…
Absolutely, Jan and Bill. Please keep in touch, Mari - and please come back when you're ready because you are an eloquent voice on this blogspot and anyway, you write wonderful books of real distinction which have provided me and many others with memorable reading experiences. Yes, your writing space is far removed from the chaos of mine. The sign of an orderly mind. But I do notice that you have, unless my eyes deceive me, two loungers designed for intervals of rest and contemplation. That shows a keen sense of prioritisation and I wish I had room for such luxuries in my study!

Umberto called your posts 'poetic' and 'lucid'. He is spot-on. Two great qualities coming together. Bill, yes there is indeed a great difference between loneliness and solitude. One is corrosive, the other is inspiring.
Mari Biella said…
Thank you for the comments, everyone - I'm sorry to be going, but hopefully it will only be temporary! And yes, Dennis, those are loungers; I was hoping to turn the writing space into a space for contemplation and relaxation too, but unfortunately it's in the cellar and therefore perhaps a little too dark and cold...
Susan Price said…
Mari, you have an open invitation to come back whenever you like. Please remember that.
Debbie Bennett said…
All the best, Mari. It's been great having you on board. x

Popular posts

A Few Discreet Words About Caesar's Penis--Reb MacRath

A Week of Three Libraries -- Julia Jones

Close Reading | Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose | Karen Kao

In a White Room with Black Curtains Near the Station -- Dianne Pearce

Rules is Rules, discovers Griselda Heppel, Even When They're Not.