On a Writer, Being Alone

I assumed I'd have plans.

I'm in Nashville, and I always have plans.  Like, for every minute.

But it turns out that I didn't.  I texted a couple friends to go grab a glass of wine, but it was Saturday night and I was way too last minute.  Everyone was busy.

And so I faced a loooooong evening alone in my room, which, it needs to be said, is smaller than most prison cells.  And has no television.  And spotty wi-fi.

Normally I love being alone, but normally I have TV for company (for some reason I always leave it on in hotel rooms).  Normally I have the internet.  The night stretched ahead, empty.

I know: why didn't I write?  I am a writer, after all, one known to whine quite often about not having enough time to work on my novel.  But bear in mind that two days of taking in information about writing tends to clog up one's head.  And it was already well and truly congested from a bad cold.

We not only need time for writing, but energy.  Mental energy, and I had none.

I thought perhaps some wine might change that.  It had been a couple days since I'd had a glass and I'd been thinking hard through workshops and presenting one myself.  But I was staying on an alcohol-free campus.  Yes, there are a gazillion restaurants and bars nearby, seeing as how Vanderbilt University is right across the street, but they are usually quite crowded with college students.  Not the kind of places you'd be comfortable sitting in a bar alone.

And besides, I was out of the habit of going out to eat alone.  I'd done it before (and wrote about it here) but it had been awhile.  The thought made me nervous.  Hanging with the college kids made me nervous.  In that moment, everything made me nervous.

But then I had two brilliant ideas:

1.  If I went early, the bar might be quiet

2.  If I faced my fears, I'd feel better on the other side

And so off I trundled.

And found the bar at Bound'ry with all the sliding windows open, the breeze swaying the flower baskets hanging from lamp posts right outside.  And, it was gloriously empty.  Except for me.

You know what facing your fear feels like? It feels like jumping into a pool of clear, blue water.  It feels like sailing from a trapeze.  It feels like driving too fast down the freeway.

And on the other side is deep, soothing relief.

Wine and trout for dinner and back to my room.  Where I did work a little on a piece of flash fiction I'd written at the workshop, and re-read my novel (which I can finally get back to, now that the Emma Jean edits are done).  I also texted with family and friends back home about the score of the Duck game.  (Just try to find a TV playing a Pac-12 game in Nashville.  Try it.  I dare you.)  And I talked to my friend.

It was a glorious night.

Have you faced any fears lately?  Do you face them in your writing?

9 Responses to On a Writer, Being Alone

  1. Karen Phillips 09/23/2012 at 14:59 #

    I wished after reading this post I had of thought to ask you to go to an early dinner with me, Charlotte. But it sounds like you made the best of your situation. It was so good to see you this weekend.

    I can emphatize with the low energy. I was exhausted Friday night and Saturday by the end of the session. I hope you got some rest. My experience with those dorm rooms with the shared baths and small beds was what made me decide to just drive in to Nashville this year. I’m looking forward to next year’s Loft being in Murfreesboro.


  2. Karen Phillips 09/23/2012 at 16:59 #

    make that empathize, not “emphatize.” LOL

  3. Charlotte Dixon 09/23/2012 at 18:16 #

    Karen, it was so great to see you and spend time with you.  I'm excited about this session of the Writer's Loft!  We'll have dinner together in January!

  4. J.D. 09/24/2012 at 05:55 #

    This could be the Duck’s year. We will known more about Alabama after they play Ole Miss this weekend. I think they may not be as invincible as advertised. That would leave LSU or Georgia coming out of the SEC. The Ducks haven’t fared well against the SEC but they now have some experience under their belt. But I’m putting the cart way ahead of the horse–they have to win their conference first.

    I envy you and Karen being there at the Loft. I love Nashville. Maybe the stars will align one year and I’ll be able to sign up. Have fun.

  5. Charlotte Dixon 09/24/2012 at 06:07 #

    I'll be keeping an eye on Bama! I'm feeling a lot better about the Ducks after their 49-0 win over Arizona, but we'll see.  I would love, love, love it if you came to Nashville some time for the Loft.  You don't have to sign up for the whole program to take advantage of the orientation weekend–you can pay just for that part of it.  Let me know if you're interested and I'll give you the scoop, next session is in January.

  6. J.D. 09/26/2012 at 04:48 #

    I am interested in just a weekend. Tell me.

  7. Charlotte Dixon 09/26/2012 at 07:50 #

    You can do just a weekend for $175, I think, I'll check.  There was so much good info this last time!  We'll have another weekend coming up in January.

  8. J.D. 09/27/2012 at 04:30 #

    Wow, your BlogHer ad is for a movie. I’m impressed. No wonder, great writer’s blog.

  9. Charlotte Dixon 09/27/2012 at 07:22 #

    Thanks, J.D.!  I appreciate your loyal readership so much!

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