While I was away last week reading in another city, I was talking with a friend, another writer, and the conversation turned to personality quirks and obsession and the way we shake a piece of life between our teeth until it’s a bloody mess, hoping it will yield up its secrets. He said he’d read a piece of research that studied artists of all flavours – writers, musicians, visual artists, actors – and concluded that all of them showed a far greater than average tendency toward psychoses or at least mild neuroses. We laughed over why on earth someone would waste money to study the obvious.
I came home pondering my own obsessions, most of them tucked into safe corners of my brain. For now. But my need for solitude was underlined by those two days away and another two days this week. So many good people to visit, so much to say. I’m able to don a sociable, really sometimes near-loquacious persona when I need it, but it exhausts me. Which is why the discovery of “retreats” soon after I became serious about writing fifteen years ago has added a dimension and a survival mechanism that I can’t imagine being without. And that is why, in spite of having a quiet house and almost enough discipline to sequester myself here to do the work that needs to be done, I’m off to the Banff Centre at the end of the month for eight days of immersion in a project that must be done before I find another thread that needs to chewed and shaken.
Solitude. Retreats. I highly recommend them. May as well celebrate our neuroses.