Years ago when I lived in San Francisco with my former international economics professor, we were both trying to write novels and short stories. My prof went on sabbatical to Prague, with me in tow, and never worked on his proposed paper on the transition of a closed economy to an open one; instead he spent most of his time writing the first draft of his novel.
One of his laments about becoming a writer was that it’s a solitary life. At the time I didn’t understand his concern because I thought a writer’s life would be ideal for him: He had a tendency to be non-committal, distant, and wasn’t very sociable. Any socializing that we did was usually because I accepted invitations or initiated new friendships.
However, this lifestyle as a writer was a big issue for him because he didn’t know whether he wanted to become more social or withdraw himself further and write. He was clueless of how to find the right balance between the two.
I don’t know whether he ever succeeded in becoming a fiction writer and found that balance or not (we split a year after our return to the US and never kept in touch), but whenever I hear other writers or would be writers mention that it’s a solitary life, I think of him and his dilemma.
Although I still consult in public relations, writing takes most of my time. It’s easy it is to become a recluse and not socialize at all. There have been days and even weeks when I’ve shut myself off from the world and have spent most of my days researching, reading and writing, but unlike my prof, I don’t grapple with “the solitary life.” I cherish every moment of that time because I consider it a luxury to do what I love, and that’s to write.