"You know what? The bastard blows me out of the water. This guy writes Maine like Ardai writes New York. If you're not reading him, you don't know what you're missing." --Chris F. Holm, author of The Big Reap, The Wrong Goodbye and Dead Harvest.

"Bagley's got the poet's eye, but that doesn't mean everything is prettier in his work. It means the ugly stuff is more vivid. More intense. Like a sudden switch from analog to HD. And that's a trait to very much admire in his work." --Anthony Neil Smith, author of Hogdoggin', Yellow Medicine, The Drummer and Psychosomatic.




Sunday, April 13, 2008

Splendid Isolation?

A woman with whom I went to high school died Friday.

I say I went to high school with her, but the truth is that I barely knew her name and I don't recall ever speaking to her. Worse, I can't remember whether she was in my graduating class or my wife's. She was someone I recognized when I saw her in town. That's all.

So what does this have to do with writing?

I have become a virtual hermit over the last couple of months. Aside from my family, the only people with whom I've had any significant contact are my writing students. I avoid going into town; in fact, I sometimes go days at a stretch without leaving this dirt road. I haven't visited friends or had friends come to the house since before Christmas. If something takes me away from writing, then I have no time for it.

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

Yes, writing is a solitary pursuit. But my writing is born of a fascination with people, and I feel the loss of that interraction. Even Thoreau, for all his praise of solitude and contemplation, had to go hang around in town now and then. So I think I'll take the dog for a walk out onto the paved road this afternoon and see who we meet. It's a terrible thing to not know your neighbors, or people who were in your high school class, especially in a small town.

4 comments:

Sandra Ruttan said...

Yeah, stuff like that can really knock you back, make you stop short and realize you have to take time to be with people.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Sometimes I wish I lived in a place where I could experience a little isolation. I have always lived in a city.

Patrick Shawn Bagley said...

I was born in a city. If you had told me twenty years ago (when I was hanging out in Hollywood) that I'd someday be happy living in the sticks, I'd have laughed at you. Fact is, I love it here and wouldn't want to live anywhere else, but it is nice to get out once in a while. It's too easy to become obsessed with work.

Lyman said...

Why go out in public when you have entire worlds to explore in your mind? Though I do agree that writers need human contact once and a while. Especially stay at home writers. You go a little stir crazy. Can't wait for summer. Then I get to write from the deck. It's a little less claustrophobic when you're in the fresh air amongst the trees.

Which reminds me... we should try to get some of the Maine writers together for a lunch or something. The network feels more real when you've actually shaken the hands of those you associate with online.

Hope the walk did the trick.