This entry’s been long overdue, so excuse me if it feels a little out of context. I only just finished it.
This blog is clearly a reflection of my loneliness. It is an expression of my angst, disappointment, frustration, and disillusionment with the world. If you walk up to me on any given day and asked me how I felt, I’d bullshit you and tell you I feel great. But dig even a little deeper and you’ll quickly see that am a lonely man.
With all my idealism and my unwillingness to bend to the will and ways of the world, it would seem that my loneliness is an inherently lifelong affliction.
It was Luanne’s birthday, and I was one of the few to attend her dinner at Holy Basil. Always the quiet one at social gatherings, I planted myself in the corner seat. Her husband Dmitri sat across from me, with his close friend (a French fellow) seated to his left. As the night went on, we got around to talking about my writing. I revealed that I was working on a novel. Naturally, they asked about it.
My novel is a portrait of loneliness. In it, I want to explore the nature of loneliness: is it a self-imposed burden, or is it a product of our environment and experiences? Is loneliness something you create from within, or is it something that finds you and follows you? The problem is that there is no answer. I explained this to them. Dmitri and the Frenchman asked what type of book it was. My novel is largely autobiographical, and I said as such. The Frenchman made some very interesting points about how the novel could get a little too self-indulgent. Of course I had considered this from the beginning, but this reminder would help in my decision on how to shape the voice of my novel. After a few moments and sidebars later, Dmitri returned to my rhetorical question: does loneliness come from within or without?. He said, “It’s self-imposed. You do it to yourself. You’re lonely by choice.” I was curious as to his answer. “How so?” I inquired. Dmitri explained.
And oh what an explanation it was. It was one of those moments you expecttohave in a therapist’s chair. Insightfully, Dmitri said that I hold on to my loneliness to write. Because of the autobiographical nature of my novel, because I am practically living the novel, I force myself to be lonely.
I spent the rest of the night in deep thought. I am always quiet, but the profundity of this observation essentially silenced me. I became rapidly absorbed in my own thoughts. As socially ungraceful as it was, I stared off into nothingness, examining my life and my writing. I could not help it. I had just heard an insightful and frankly mindblowing observation. It was so true. The simplicity and truth behind my loneliness had been exposed. He answered the question to my loneliness.
I realized that in the same way that I became a method actor whenever I lied, whenever I was in the sales mentality, I was a method writer. The fate of my novel’s protagonist could not be written because his fate was intertwined with mine. I was living the life I wanted my character to have so that I could write about it. I needed to experience his emotions so that I could write with authenticity. I needed to be as lonely as he was.
The questions is, will I leave my state of loneliness once my novel is complete? Or can my novel ever be complete? Previously, I had written a screenplay with characters who weren’t quite based on myself. I was able to finish that screenplay because I could see them move forward in their lives. I simply needed to write what happened in that world. But with my novel, I cannot do the same. I cannot write the story of my character because I do not know how my own life will turn out.
I am not sure if the loneliness will persist, but one thing is certain: I need to step back in order to work on my novel. Considering the somewhat autobiographical nature of the novel, and considering how close it is to me, it will not be easy. But if I am to indeed create this “portrait of loneliness” (as I like to call it), I will have to start distancing myself from the protagonist so that I don’t get in my own way.