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  • Writer's pictureFrancine Cunningham

My ode to the beauty of solitude

I am constantly composing in my mind. Sentences. Images. Fitting stories together in the quiet of my skull. If you’ve ever wondered why I like to be alone all the time it’s because when I am alone I can think. And thinking to me is like what water is to our bodies. It keeps me alive. Functioning. When I am alone I can keep my ideas in order. I know I won’t accidentally let the words out in idle conversation. I can keep them for myself. I can focus on the rewriting of thoughts. The reordering. The cutting and moving. The adding in of new learned ideas. Of words unknown and then known. I have the freedom to craft inside my mind. Without the mess of scratching things out. And so, I hold all of these stories in my head, all these poems, essays, characters, and lines in an unseen master document. One where, when I am ready, I sit down and transcribe.

I have thought about every word I have written hundreds of times before setting it to paper. Every idea has been turned and re turned, over and over, before commitment. Some of my current work I have been writing since I was child. Trying to find words to describe my life. The why to why I am. I sometimes don’t understand, or maybe the better word is remember, the writing before the writing, and so it can seem to me like I am just pulling words out of nowhere. I am not as organized in my mind as some. I don’t have a memory palace whose halls I can freely walk. I have something slightly less tangible. But still, it serves me.

I am writing this, I think, as a way of explanation. Of reasons for lost invitations, of the yearning that I feel to go away and live alone in the woods, of craving solitude. I have figured out, mostly, how to combine my passion for teaching, an undoubtedly in the world profession, and my need for quiet, for contemplation, for writing. I wear headphones when I am out in the world to block out the blaring barrage of city sound. Not because I innately love having music pound into my ears for hours at a time. But because it can physically hurt me to be around so many assaulting words and sounds.

And I don’t dislike people, or socializing really. It’s just hard to have so many other voices in my head. And the longer I spend in the company of others the less time I spend in quiet composition. And maybe this makes me seem like someone you don’t want to know, someone who speaks of art in this high minded reverent way, someone who churns out sloppy poetry about the life of an artist, an artist. But really, I am just trying to say, be alone with your thoughts for a period of time everyday. If you’re like me and need hours and hours everyday then take them. Don’t be afraid of being the weirdo. Because I already am. You can just blame me for this advice when people question you.

And if I look to you lost in thought in the middle of a conversation, if my eyes glaze over and I look beyond you, I am probably adding something to the master document. Or retrieving. Or maybe I’m just tired.

Every writingly yours,



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