You don’t have to be an introvert to be an artist, but adopting the qualities of one could awaken your slumbering masterpiece. Extroverts may schmooze the salons and First Thursdays, but art is an inside job. Lone wolves eschew social distraction, the safety of institutions and domestic busyness in favour of ripening ideas independently. Unsung aloneness is where your process is permitted to take root and grow, unfettered by outside influences. Let your skill, style and work develop over time in the company of your cold, hard grit.
Google “Am I an introvert?” and you can take a quiz to assess your levels of misanthropy, shyness and how much you like parties. You can check your tolerance for silence or crusty pajamas. Recently, a painter-friend came for a drink and, while in front of me, discovered a hardened glob of unidentified paste in her own hair. I kicked her out so we could both get back to work.
If you’re not a natural introvert, you may discover that, like most of us, you’re an ambivert — something between a total shut-in and sociopathic butterfly. Ambiverts move between the realms of solitary focus and party animal, but may suffer from a lack of defined me-time. If it’s art you’re after, here are a few mantras for solo seasoning:
I enjoy working alone.
I limit social obligations and protect free time.
I prioritize creative work.
Looking out the window is preferable to my phone.
I spend time with others one-on-one.
I prefer to be prepared.
I prefer to dig in.
I like to daydream.
I’m rarely bored.
It’s easy to not talk about myself.
I feel at ease when I have a routine.
I need to be quiet to be creative.
I have everything I need.
My room is my sanctuary.
Your season is possible – desire is the only requirement. Save up, clear your schedule and claim a future semester. Trade responsibilities with an understanding spouse or buddy by offering the gift in kind. Give it a go. A writer I know sets an alarm for 5 a.m. so she can peel off a few paragraphs before she hits the subway at 8. Or you can stock a friend’s off-peak cabin with a six-month supply of granola. Your season awaits.
PS: “Writers may be disreputable, incorrigible, early to decay or late to bloom but they dare to go it alone.” (John Updike)
“Go to your room.” (Robert Genn)
Esoterica: After three days, a house guest will inevitably mention that I ought to get out more. Last week, the UPS guy hinted at the same. “It’s a beautiful day,” he nudged. But I was pre-occupied with a potential something drying on the floor upstairs. With the exception of the occasional interloper of guilt, I’m as happy as a cow in her stall.
“Solitude is fine, but you need someone to tell you that solitude is fine.” (Honore de Balzac)
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“Solitude is the furnace of transformation.” (Henri Nouwen)