“How much better is silence; the cup, the table. How much better to sit by myself like the solitary sea-bird that opens its wings on the stake. Let me sit here forever with bare things, this coffee cup, this knife, this fork, things in themselves, myself being myself.” — Virginia Woolf, The Waves
Dear Writers of All Kinds,
As a person who has always kept a notebook, I’m not sure I’ve ever felt lonely when I am by myself or better with myself, though I’ve certainly felt lonely in the presence of others. That is, I can confirm, a truly awful feeling. Being solitudinal, though, is something I can appreciate, something in which I’ve always been able to find pleasure and peace. I can only really write well in solitude. Writing and solitude make good partners.
Over the years, I have discovered that cafes offer a unique opportunity to work alone, while in the company of others, and I’d come to enjoy that as well. There’s something settling and comforting about a community, especially one that is still able to offer solitude, as a viable option for belonging. This is rare. Usually belonging to a community requires having to do something — connect or perform. But working solitudinously in a crowd is nearly a perfect state. The combination of the external pulse of life and the internal peace and quiet are addictive. Or at least, I found it to be.
I know I’m not alone, though. People go back to these spaces again and again. Or did. In neighborhood cafes, the same people claim their tables, morning after morning, especially on the weekdays, when the crowd is regular. Or was. The pandemic changed the ways in which we gather.
I haven’t sat for hours in a cafe for more than 10 months now. For most of the last ten months, I’ve been writing entirely in solitude, but that has been okay. I wouldn’t have complained, and I’m not complaining now. However, I will say, I have a new appreciation for writing alone, in the company of others, since discovering The Writers’ Hour, hosted by the London Writer’s Salon - an online version of a cafe, and more, and it is golden.
A member of my IG community, Elizabeth, told me about The Writers’ Hour when I announced my intentions of working on my first book. At the time, the London Writer’s Salon, which was founded by Paruta Bavishi and Matt Trinetti, met three times every weekday and had been doing so since the start of the pandemic.
It is a magic formula, a sacred space, and a beautiful writing community.
The concept is simple, but the impact is great. Every morning at 8 AM - 8 AM GMT (London time), 8 AM ET (East Coast time), and 8 AM PT (West Coast time), you can click on the Zoom link and find yourself in the company of dozens and dozens of other writers who have shown on for the same thing — the opportunity to write quietly, together. This morning there were 185 writers at 8 AM ET.
Each morning, either Parul or Matt will greet everyone. Their energy is SO good. We will go through our morning rituals of sharing our intentions and listening to some words of wisdom from one of them or from a community member. After that, we will then write, in silence with microphones muted, for 50 focused minutes, before a 5-minute checkout and closing routine. You get to know the routines, the other people, the vibe, and the pace, and it becomes some sort of virtual magical place.
At first, I only used The Writers’ Hour to work on my writing projects, but then as it became a regular occurrence in my life (there are days when I will go to two or three sessions in a day), I started to realize there was no limit to what I could write, even though I’d originally begun attending to work on a single project. I gave myself the freedom (something I must often do, as I can be rather rigid) to write on my projects or write in my notebook, or work on brainstorming ideas. All of these things are a real part of my life and my process, as a writer. But, you don’t have to be a professional writer working to publish your work in order to enjoy writing in the company of others.
If you’re finding yourself wanting to create a regular writing practice and you could also benefit from a bit of company (and who couldn’t, right now?), then I encourage you and invite you to try it out. While there’s more to the London Writer’s Salon than their Writers’ Hour, it is the perfect place to start on the London Writer’s Salon or to stay and call home. That is up to you, because Writers’ Hour is free unless you choose to become a Patron, and the discovery process is simply delicious.
I am hoping you’ll check them out at www.londonwriterssalon.com. And if you decide to attend a Writers’ Hour, look for me and say “hi.”
Peace, love, and all things analogue,
P.S. I will never stop trying to find ways to encourage and motivate and find places and spaces for others to engage in meaningful writing practice. It is always up my sleeve. An aside: Have I mentioned lately that I am still head over heels in love with my yellow leather A5 zip organizer by The Superior Labor?
Write often and always with (self)love.