“Leave Me Alone!”

I’m a solitary person by inclination. I spend most of my time alone. I’m a “friendly introvert.” I like people very much. I love it when my neighbor stops by on her morning walk and we chat away a half-hour or so. I love it when I’m out with the dogs and find myself engaging with kids. I’m not bristly, brusque, hostile or anything like that. I’m just solitary.

As a kid I was always trying to be alone, but it was hard. My mom had some problem with closed doors and if I went into my room and closed the door, within minutes the woman would be there opening the door and saying, “What are you trying to hide?”

I always responded with, “Leave me alone!” and THAT always led to,

“I’m your mother. I have a right to know.”

THAT escalated to a fight. Invariably. Even if all I was doing was reading a book, as I was wont to do back in the days when I was a reader.

I always knew my marriages or marriage-like-things were over when, if the guy was gone when I got home from work, and I realized he wasn’t there, I felt relief, peace, even, yes, joy. A few episodes of this over the decades, and I knew that I probably only wanted men to visit.


I believe solitude is necessary to art, and it is certainly necessary to writing.

When I was writing Martin of Gfenn, my first novel and first experience of that nature, I remember being totally absorbed for months. Every morning I went to school, taught and ran a writing lab. I bored everyone by talking about medieval lepers and what I was writing. Then I went home, took the dogs hiking, returning and seeking, again, that absorption.

When I finished the novel it was about 8 pm on a winter night. I got up from my chair and wondered where everyone was. Then I understood no one writes with a bunch of people around laughing and talking and sharing the experience. I could draw in coffee houses, grade papers and I probably could have done some writing there had I owned a laptop at the time ( ha ha ) but to truly concentrate and allow the story to live? Solitude.

“Works of art are of an infinite solitude, and no means of approach is so useless as criticism. Only love can touch and hold them and be fair to them. — Always trust yourself and your own feeling, as opposed to argumentations, discussions, or introductions of that sort; if it turns out that you are wrong, then the natural growth of your inner life will eventually guide you to other insights.” Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

Luckily, I live in a place where it doesn’t seem to be that strange to be alone. the San Luis Valley is full of introverts — I think it might be a prerequisite for happiness in this large remote valley.


13 thoughts on ““Leave Me Alone!”

  1. I totally get this. I had a slightly different take on it (see my response to this prompt), but for me, I need to be left alone.

  2. “friendly introvert”

    I shall have to remember this when I describe myself. Sounds better than “idiosyncratic” or “eccentric” – which may be closer to my particular truth.

  3. I so get this. I was that same kid in my room with the door closed. “What are you doing in there??” Always. I enjoy the ‘noise’ at work, but boy, do I love my quiet time at home. Yes, I am also a friendly introvert. Here’s to us!

  4. I think you are right, the best words and writings and ideas come from times of quiet solitude… something I struggle with as a bit of an extrovert. Writting is pretty much the silliest career choice for me in a way, but it is what I love.

  5. Your description of yourself as a ‘friendly introvert’ reminds me of myself. I think I’m one of those too. I also get why you need solitude for creativity. I tend to go deaf while I’m writing, and my husband could tell me the house is burning down and I wouldn’t register it. Writers need that unwavering focus for the thoughts and words to flow. Total absorption, indeed. 🙂

  6. I am a fellow introvert, and I live with an introvert, so we give one another our space. We are friendly. We raised an introvert and an extrovert. I always felt sorry for our extrovert. She must have felt like an alien in our house. She seems none the worse for it. – My mother was the same about closed doors. I was always reading.

    • I spent the weekend with my friend and her developmentally disabled son. He is an extrovert and has no boundaries at all. He basically sits ON me when he is sitting beside me. I love him to pieces, but when they leave, I’m trashed. It was really helpful to me back when I was teaching business communication to understand that introverts don’t usually major in business AND stuff that would put me off (and did) rolled off them like water from a duck. I hope they got as good an education as I did!

      • Extroverts can be a lot of fun, but they can suck the life out of you! And many are naturals at talking. I’m sure you gave them a great education, and the tools they needed to communicate. That is more than just blabbing away.

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