Am I a Loner?

The short answer is no. There, that was easy. Why I even bother with this question is because writing can seem like a lonely experience—though I’ve said before that I’m never lonely when I write (fiction, at least) because I’m with my characters and they’re very much alive to me. Also, you might have the feeling after reading the previous post that I’ve traveled so much that I’ve never really joined a community as such. Wrong—especially in Japan, I was very much a part of a community, but in fact everywhere I go, I try to join in social activities of one sort or another.

In Sydney I joined a rugby supporters’ club; in Tokyo and Sapporo I started English conversation lounges; in Wellington I organized and led a writer’s group; in Phnom Penh I played basketball two or three times a week with the same crew; I’ve joined a gym in virtually every city I’ve lived in—I’ve always done this kind of thing, not to mention trying to find shared housing wherever I go. If I’ve seemed to some like less of a “group” person, it’s probably because my thoughts were sometimes far from (I’m tempted to say beyond) the group’s—and not for lack of trying to be a part.

I had some really good friends in high school, and made more in the years afterward, though most have fallen away because of my inveterate travel—which I’ve already said I seem to do more out of necessity than love of movement or of the new and exotic. I’ve noted elsewhere in this blog that I get bored with a job, and when a book is finished I see very little reason to stay. So if travel appears to add to my “aloneness,” such travel is rarely by choice (in the sense of the best option available). Sometimes it seemed just about the only thing to do.

What I’m getting at, then, is that the writer’s life (or rather, this writer’s life) may look like having all the trappings of the life of a loner but in my case that’s not so. On the contrary, I seek others out and always have. Obviously, I’m not your average guy so I don’t always click with people. However, I try. But why even say this at all?

I think I’ve included this entry in the blog because the focus of my writing is essentially social. Especially in my later work, I focus on the cultural attributes of modern America that separate people and make loving (caritas, not romance) difficult or even impossible for many. Certainly our society has become more fragmented, fearful and competitive than ever before. I want to show our people why I think that’s happened and what we might do about it. For this very reason, I don’t want to be seen as a loner or worse, a misanthrope—neither of which I am—because this would only give my critics (if any do magically appear) ammunition to discredit the work. How? Maybe as not being solidly grounded in social reality (“How can he understand society if he’s not a part of it?”) or as being the output of a person of less than desirable character—a misfit or whatever. Both these criticisms (and I’m sure there could be more) would be based on a misunderstanding of my lifestyle, so to speak, and maybe I’m just trying to set the record straight in advance. Does that make sense? I think it does.

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