Anybody who knows anything about writing knows about that the gig requires a lot of alone-time. Unless you’re one of those people who can compose lucid prose on a crowded subway train, most writers need to have that space they can get away to in order to put their minds in the right space and put together something that won’t entirely embarrass them.
There is, though, always the problem of the outside world. It intrudes on some writers in the simple matter of making a living. The day job, whether writing-related or not, by definition puts the writer out in the world whether they like it or not. Most writers put up with this because, well, rent.
But these days, it seems like the actual practice of just plain writing, not working to be able to afford to write, has been getting awful social. Part of it is that tic of the modern age where every activity must be shared and turned into an online discussion group. But part of it is simply the business of writing. Attending workshops, participating in panel discussions, even getting up in front of people and teaching a class.
History has typically not been generous to the writerly recluse. It’s usually only a lucrative position after the fact of your success—and it works best if you’re a man—Salinger, Pynchon, Faulkner all have that esoteric aura about them that’s quite different from poor old Emily Dickinson, that self-imposed shut-in, or Flannery O’Connor, whose excursive limitations were a sad matter of physical ailment. Even Donna Tartt has to go on 12-city tours. And then there’s me. I’m not Donna, or Emily, or Flannery. I’m not getting anywhere as a young, reclusive, female writer….
So, keep that in mind all you introverts and recluses as you write the Great American Novel. At some point, if you’re lucky, you’ll have to go out there and stand under glaring lights and read your prose to a dozen or so people half paying attention to you over the hiss of the nearby cafe’s espresso machine. It’s a reward, of sorts.