I’m back again with more musings and ramblings. This time I wanted to speak about the personality of a writer and how difficult it can be to understand, which came into focus for me at the International Literary Festival in Dublin where I won a ‘Date with An Agent’.
Why are you the way you are?
This question has been in my mind almost every moment of the last few weeks and has even disturbed my dreams. For the next two weeks, I am on holidays with my family in Spain. Family is, to me, a source of comfort and grounding. However, there are still moments when I become a juxtaposition as I adore my family’s company but find myself feeling so terribly isolated within my own mind.
Like in all families, though thankfully less than most, we argue and disagree, we call each other out and spare little time for feelings in doing so. Honesty is the defining emotion in my little family of four. Growing up with the same level of honesty, means that I cannot help but be honest with myself as well. And this means that despite the level of security I indulge in with my family, I am hyper aware of my differences to them. None of us are carbon copies of each other, and my sister and I are far from similar in our temperaments. She is held up like a mirror against me and I to her, where we have to identify our differences and move around them and grow closer despite them.
Yet at times when I find us walking down the street, an intense need for silence overcomes me which I cannot explain. I grate around the edges of other people who enjoy constant talking, as this exhausts me as socialising always has done.
At the age of twenty two, I have not yet been able to compromise an acceptance with my own sensitivities. Instead I am bombarded with the hateful part of my mind that questions why must I need alone time so often, and pushes the knowledge of how hurtful that may be to the fore of my every interaction. This effects my happiness even in the moments when I am meant to have cherish the memories I am forging with my family and swells my mind with doubts of how could they possibly like someone as temperamental as me.
On a recent Saturday I attended the International Literary Festival in Dublin as I had secured a ‘date with an agent’ by being selected on the merits of my novel. In truth, I had not given the day an exceptional amount of thought as my final college exams loomed over everything until I felt smothered. What I had considered, however, was the benefit of meeting other writers like me. Like me. It was a promising thought. I was excited because I never feel saner than when my feelings are validated by someone with my equally high aspirations.
I had to leave Galway at half-past five in the morning and though I was tired, I was vigilant about following Google Maps through Temple Bar with a friend. The theatre where the event took place was thronged with people sporting messenger bags (not unlike my own) and coffee cups. The ages of the writers varied greatly but everyone held the same energy that arises only when you are actively enjoying your passion; uniqueness. It’s a funny thing to witness first hand the special energy which we all hold when pursuing a creative pattern in life. We all feel the same type of unique, which is in itself an oxymoron in practice. Everyone wishes to be different, even though we already are.
When I was upstairs with the other Young Adult writers who were selected, I made conversation through nibbled bites of my energy bar. Everyone was apprehensive about meeting the agent, the wonderful Polly Nolan is Greenhouse Literary. I felt little to no apprehension about this. No, my nerves centered around trying to predict my reaction to seeing all of these talented writers and an agent who is excellent at her job. It is the dream come alive for me, straight from my positive visualising mind and onto the hardwood floors of Smock Alley Theatre. Would I find myself envious of everyone else or intimidated beyond words by Polly? Already, as with my family, I was preempting my possible poor reaction which might hurt someone else.
I tapped my boots against the floor until I made the whole bench shake. When Polly arrived and the questions from my peers began, I realised how ridiculous it was of me to ever expect myself to feel jealous or intimidated by these people who are just that – people.
The rest of the day felt as though I was moving in a fog. I had not purposely isolated myself but once again, I found myself disagreeing with other people, though I didn’t say so. When I need to write like I need air, then the answer to any question I could ask is to keep doing. How can anyone expect to achieve results without doing and backing up their ambition with action? Agents and publishers may reject you, but the solution to every rejection is to keep writing. To do otherwise is to accept failure in an industry that thrives off of a good work ethic. Habitual actions bleed success.
That day, my why am I like this question was answered. It is up to me to control my level of self blame. I am a thinker. I need silence more than conversation in the ratio of any one day. I am who am I because of what I do everyday. I am always seeking means to improve upon myself, my work and my own success. My work ethic is strict and because of it, I achieve days like my time with Polly Nolan. I will continue to work for opportunities and drain them dry whenever I can. I am at odds from other people because I am at odds with myself and each stage of my personality as I try to evolve to do better and work harder. How can I possibly understand the harsh opinions of others when they are at odds with my most recent upgrade in morality.
Perhaps everyone at the event that day felt the same. Perhaps they too felt a little at odds with the formal organisation of the place. I will never know, most likely. Regardless of the uniqueness of my emotions, I am happy to have taken part. From the first step into Temple Bar to the last round of applause for authors Catherine Anne Howard and Hazel Gaynor, I was trapped by my own contemplation that to be as reserved as I am was wrong.
If I am as preoccupied with doing as I say I am, how could I possibly waste more time with perceiving myself as being anything? The bottom line is always happiness, and the event on Saturday brought home that there will never be any other life for me other than writing. To achieve this, I need to do, not think and perhaps one day it will be me on the stage in Smock Alley Theatre advising others to keep writing.
I hope you enjoyed my thoughts & I’ll write soon,