Anyone who’s seen me teach or present at an author talk might be surprised to discover I’m an introvert.
Being an introvert isn’t being shy or socially awkward (though it can definitely include those attributes—I’ve suffered from both). Introverts find mixing with others, even friends, leaves them drained. Extroverts are energised by company. But for the introvert, the only way to reinvigorate our resources is to be alone.
I had just wound up a Northern Book Tour with my Suspense Sister, Sandy Vaile, and a marathon one-day workshop with the Eyre Writers. We were both buoyed by mingling with writers, book club members and awesome librarians who welcomed us into their world and laughed in all the right places (thankfully!).
Elated by the positive interaction and feedback, we never-the-less looked forward to reconnecting with old friends and our sadly neglected writing routines on a five-day writing retreat.
Organised by Diane, the retreat group is kept small so that we all have space and privacy. Accommodation is Spartan. We take everything we need, and make do with much less than we would at home. There is no TV. Internet is kept to a minimum and often the signal is too weak to work effectively anyway.
The first time I attended I suffered from sensory deprivation. So desperate was I for stimulation that I walked the beach listening to the only station I could pick up on my old 3G mobile phone—parliament question time. Desperate!
Writing is the primary goal. But the other love that pulls me to the Eyre peninsular is the beach, a great sweeping series of shallow bays populated by nothing but wildlife and the occasional sunburned fisherman.
It was on one of these walks, toward the end of the five days, that I realised just how desperately I needed time alone. Weird. Most of the week there were only seven of us. I had my own room, my own table and laptop. I walked the beach for an hour and half every day alone with my thoughts with only plovers and pelicans for company.
And yet, there I was cross-legged beneath the dunes, listening to waves gently lap the sand and the occasional honk of pacific geese as they found a place to rest for the coming night.
Ten minutes was all I needed. Ten minutes of listening to nature with no thought of writing or talking or even walking. Just reconnecting with myself.
I returned to my friends and to my writing with renewed vigour.
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