Monday, March 18, 2013

Solitary Company

The wild dogs cry out in the night
As they grow restless longing for some solitary company
 - "Africa" by Toto

I've always loved that song, especially that line. "Solitary company". It's great, isn't it? Part of it is because, ever since I learned what the word meant, I've loved oxymorons. They're one of my favorite kinds of word play, and they so rarely some up in pop culture. This line in particular has always struck me. They long for company while being alone. During a conversation with my writing buddy, I realized that this oxymoron very clearly describes a writer.

The conversation we had was about silence. There are people in everyone's life who like to talk a lot and people who don't talk at all. I am not a talker. I could go a whole day without saying a word to anyone, and I could be fine with that. I'm undeniably an introvert. I'm okay with alone. I'm okay with silent. Because, as a writer, silence is... never really quiet. Silence is just a chance for us to listen to the other sounds that only we can hear: the turning of gears as we puzzle out a plothole, the rambling of a muse figuring out the new animal she found, the chatter of characters acting out a scene or telling us something about themselves, the construction site noises of a world being built. When the world around us is quiet, that's where we writers thrive.

What better way to define "solitary company" than the mind of a writer in a moment of silence? The world around us can stop existing, but we are not alone. We are never alone, because in any moment, we can be in the company of hundreds. There are so many other people we're trying to listen to, talking to us and ultimately trying to get us to make them live. And yet, just as easily as we can slip into this state of solitary company, we can leave them for the real world and no one ever knows we were there. Like ninjas. Writing ninjas.


  1. I like that phrase. I think true silence (from outside noises and inner ramblings) would be frightening.

  2. 'Like ninjas. Writing ninjas.' is now my favourite ending of a piece of writing.

  3. Very well thought-out. I also love the ending... "writing ninjas". :)