Isolationists

Ben Myers has written a blog on The Guardian book blogs site that looks at how the fantasy of being alone can be an inherent part of being a writer. He then goes on to look at some of those well known writers who realised their need for isolation - Thoreau taking transcendentalism to the nth degree by living in a cabin in the wildernesses of nowhere for a couple of years being just example. Then I noticed that most of these reclusive / isolationist writers are male. I mean, how many women piss off with little more than a pen, a pickaxe and a milkpan to live solo? I have always been in love with the idea of having a log cabin in Iceland - in the middle of nowhere, though preferably overlooking a fjord - and complete with wifi laptop! Yet I know the reality would probably be very different. There are also many novels about isolationist males who, whilst they have 'gone back to the land' are usually also running from something. For example, Gerard Donovan's Julius Winsome (Faber) and the excellent award winning Out Stealing Horses by Per Petersson are both about men who are, to a certain degree, hiding, or protecting themselves from other humans. The trith for me is, when it comes to writing I don't often disappear from the world but actually need to engage with it more; I listen, or eavesdrop, more to conversations on the tube, in case I can use it, or just bring my laptop into my local Starbucks. However, the next time I am in a busy coffee shop, writing, maybe I should write a novel about a woman who lives in a cabin in Iceland overlooking......

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