“One of the problems which will probably haunt me more than any other is the problem of communication between two people. The fact that complete communication is completely impossible between two people, is to me one of the biggest tragic themes in the world.” Georges Simenon
A friend once told me that he doesn’t like talking on the phone for the simple reason that he can’t see the person’s reaction and facial expressions on the other end of the line. He said, “I wouldn’t be able to tell from his voice only what the other guy would be thinking about me.”
I didn’t think he of all people would have a problem communicating with people. Since he had a way of saying whatever was on his mind, without any consideration as to how people would feel. But his observation got me thinking. I, being shy myself, have never been able to totally communicate with people. Even on the phone, I always think after every phone call that I could have said this, or I should have said that, blah blah blah. Even now, when I meet someone special like a writer that I like and wanted to meet for so long I get tongue tied. I can’t open my mouth to utter a single word other than the cliché ‘I love your work’. The many questions that I had lost sleep over, that I had prepared to ask at that moment totally evaporate from my mind. It was worse during the early years when I was a young girl growing up. In the words of Georges Simenon:
“When I was a young boy I was afraid of it (communication). I would almost scream because of it. It gave me such a sensation of solitude, of loneliness.”
Thankfully the internet changed all of this. Especially blogging. It’s so easy to communicate with people you have not seen, but who have more or less the same interests as you. It’s so encouraging to get feedback from your fellow writers and commenters that it has brought writing to a totally different level. To be able to share your thoughts within moments of posting your writing is but the work of genius. Writers write because they have something to say and they can only express it through words on paper.
Georges Simenon, whom Andre Gide called “perhaps the greatest” novelist of contemporary France, published his first novel at seventeen, and wrote it in ten days. Then using at least sixteen pen-names he wrote scores of commercial novels- one of them in exactly twenty-five hours. Yet he had a problem communicating. He told his story with Andre Gide.
“In 1936 my publisher said he wanted to give a cocktail party so I could meet Andre Gide, for Gide had said he had read my novels and would like to meet me. So I went, and Gide asked me questions for more than two hours. After that I saw him many times, and he wrote me almost every month and sometimes oftener until he died- always to ask questions. When I went to visit him I always saw my books with so many notes in the margins that they were almost more Gide than Simenon. I never asked him about them; I was very shy about it. So now I will never know.”