Being a writer is a lonely affair. Even in today’s world, with so much social media and communication, the act of writing is fundamentally one of solitude and quiet.
When I used to work at the firm, it was hard to get alone time. Even though I had my own office, closing my door was frowned upon. It was strange to me that our profession – one which I like to romanticize as full of silent contemplation – was actually so loud.
I don’t necessarily mean loud in terms of noise. There were some noises but noise wasn’t the issue. What I mean by loud is the amount of human interaction that was required just to practice law. Putting aside talking to clients on calls or meeting with partners to discuss files, there were always all sorts of other human interaction that over the course of the day would accumulate into one big ball of socializing. Emails from co-workers. Talking to the office manager. Asking your assistant for something. Having coffee with someone to network. Attending Continuing Professional Development seminars. The list goes on and on.
When I was at the firm, I found all of these things to be distracting. They took away from my ability to concentrate on the tasks at hand. They demanded my attention and shattered my focus into a million pieces. They broke up my time, chewed it up and spat it back out as billable minutes lost. I was at the mercy of my loud profession.
Today, while I was eating my lunch alone again, it occurred to me that my days are now finally full of solitude. For one moment, I thought about how I used to get a ton of emails and how I would get phone calls. Now I finally have some quiet. I now go days without getting a single email and to me this is a luxury. While some people may feel like it is sad to open up an empty inbox, to me it is a joy. It means whenever I do get an email, it is a real human being with something real to say and it is being said directly to me. It makes me happy.
I don’t miss the noise. Not one bit. As a matter of fact I have to remind myself to work a little harder to get some of the noise back because as my huba-friend says, you are not a writer if you’re writing in a dark room and not showing it to anyone. I take his point. But still, the silence is liberating and it is the best part of my job. Everything I do is with full concentration and I am able to decide when to let myself be interrupted. Unlike before when I never really knew when my work day would be over, now I am the captain of my schedule and I am responsible for my own productivity. Whenever I get a message, it’s usually a close friend on Whatsapp and so tea breaks to chat with them are a genuine pleasure. The silence is golden and my inner hermit thrives.
I know I am at the start of a long road. I know this because right now it still feels like shouting into a void. Is anyone even reading this? do people like my comics? I have no clue and no way to find out. I have to just put one foot ahead of another and keep walking down this path. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll actually meet someone on it; I’ll make some noise and wave my hand and say loudly: “Why Hello There!”