Writing is a curious profession.
We humans are social animals. We work better in groups: whether hunting on African plains (something I’ve never done) or brainstorming in a corporate meeting (something I’ve done far too much of). We are more effective when we work together.
Yet writing drives us into a corner and says, “Sit alone and write.”
They say it is the profession of introverts.
I’m beginning to think that it is rather a profession that creates introverts.
I was a much more social animal in the past. I’m not the wildly out-going sort, but I did enjoy dinner parties, going to movies or a party with friends, spending a day out on a sailboat with a merry group. Over the last few decades of writing, I’ve found myself more and more comfortable being alone and by myself. I no longer am energized by the crowd and the feeling of intense activity.
I’m not becoming curmudgeonly.
I’m becoming a writer.
There is another world where I am a great extrovert: it’s the world inside my head. There I plan, orchestrate, manipulate, and tease my characters. “Oh, that’s your goal? Well, let me place this blockade in your way.” “You think you have this figured out? Surprise!”
It is a world where I’m able to bring the characters to such life and so enjoy myself, that now when I venture forth from my corner, I’m quite different. I still enjoy the dinners with friends and will someday again live where I can own a sailboat. But I no longer need that energy and that social charge that I did before. I find that aspect of my life is fulfilled by my stories and the worlds I create.
I think that my life is in better balance now. Not that I’m professing that everyone should turn into an introvert, or even less of an extrovert. But rather, that we must discover in ourselves who we are, find a contentment with that, rather than depending on others to fulfill it for us.
And the funny thing, I found this place through the simplest of advice from other writers. I heard it from a Tom Robbins interview, a lunch with Anne Perry, a chat here and a seminar there.
The advice is so deceptively simple, which makes it terribly difficult to follow, especially at first.
“Sit in the chair and write.”
As humans (fresh off the African veldt) we are so used to our validation being external. We’re used to so much external input as if that’s what makes us real.
But with time spent in the chair and writing story, that is where we begin to discover who we are separate from those around us. And, it is that unique and personal voice that makes our stories sell.
It is the best advice I’ve ever been given, but it had much less to do with sitting and pounding the keys than I always thought.
It is about discovery of self and moving that onto the page.
So, go to the corner and: Sit in the chair and write.
Visit M.L. Buchman’s website for more military romantic suspense!
M.L. Buchman has over 35 novels and an ever-expanding flock of short stories in print. His military romantic suspense books have been named Barnes & Noble and NPR “Top 5 of the year,” Booklist “Top 10 of the Year,” and RT “Top 10 Romantic Suspense of the Year.” In addition to romantic suspense, he also writes contemporaries, thrillers, and fantasy and science fiction.
In among his career as a corporate project manager he has: rebuilt and single-handed a fifty-foot sailboat, both flown and jumped out of airplanes, designed and built two houses, and bicycled solo around the world.
He is now a full-time writer, living on the Oregon Coast with his beloved wife. He is constantly amazed at what you can do with a degree in Geophysics. You may keep up with his writing at MLBuchman.com.