Writing is solitary, but I’m never alone


It’s funny how time is suspended when you write. You dive into the story, commune with your characters, and inhabit their world. Every so often you need to change the background music. Then more time goes by. The woods outside of the window shine in the bright morning light, fade to shadow in the afternoon, then darken. The trees disappear, their bare limbs commingled. Did the deer I saw earlier find the rest of the herd? How do they see at night?

Writing is solitary, but I’m never alone. I move from place to place. A small downstairs room with my back to the trees; every so often I turn around to get a dose of nature. A bright kitchen, tempted by another cup of coffee. In front of the fire, mesmerized by the blue and orange flames. Wherever I write, they find me. My characters know where I am.

Who says characters aren’t real? They’re my friends, my rivals, my loves. They teach me patience—with them and with myself. They seek happiness and knowledge, just like us. When they find it, I exult. When they don’t, I am stricken.

One of my favorite characters in literature is Konstantin Levin, who, at the end of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina utters a remark that has stayed with me for a long time. He juggles faith and reason and says, “but my life now, my whole life apart from anything that can happen to me, every minute of it is no more meaningless, as it was before, but it has the positive meaning of goodness, which I have the power to put into it.”

I want my characters to look inward and outward as they seek meaning and peace. I wish for them goodness and joy and the strength to find happiness even in darkness. I want us to learn from each other and hold tight. As a writer, what more could I want?