Friday, 11 October 2019

Thoughts on Loneliness





Why writers need never be lonely.
I recently spent two weeks working with Ages and Stages, a theatre company for older people, based at the New Vic Theatre in Stoke-on-Trent. We were exploring the themes of Isolation and Connection and in the process of devising our piece there was much discussion about loneliness.
Inevitably we talked about loneliness in older age. As people grow older they lose partners, become more isolated because of growing physical infirmity and the difficulties of going out and making contact with others. We also shared personal experiences of feeling lonely.
All of which might sound pretty downbeat, but then we explored ways of combatting feeling alone and our piece ended on a very positive note.
Walking home from rehearsals each day I inevitably would muse on what had been shared and discussed and I wondered if things might be somewhat different for writers.
None of us, of course, can avoid the great sorrows of life, such as losing a long term partner, a beloved child or a close friend. However, in some respects a writer is never truly alone, because for us there is another world into which we can escape. A world filled with characters we know, whose lives we can shape and who keep us company.
At least this is my experience and I find that once I am in that world, I can be so totally absorbed that the whole of a day can pass with only a few words shared with the other adult in the house.
Currently my mind is divided between the mundane matters of 21st Century England, and the less mundane too I hasten to add and the 19th Century of Letty Parker. Letty lives in an alternative world. Her Bristol is one where gargoyles and dragons gossip on the roofs at nightfall, the Dark Ones are to be feared and a twelve year old girl can make a living by setting up her own detective agency. Currently Letty is facing a number of perils on an enforced journey to the Caribbean and if I need a break from the greyness of a British October I can join her in the warmth and sunshine of Jamaica, though I’m not sure if I want to face the evil that lurks in the forests and in the plantation great house.
That book will be finished soon but unwilling to leave her world I am already drafting the next adventure.




1 comment:

Griselda Heppel said...

Ooh I love the sound of Letty. And the book cover is fantastic.

Your theatre group for the elderly sounds wonderful. Loneliness is a huge issue as we get older and lose people we love, and increasing mobility problems makes it hard to get out and do things - like take part in a drama group! But at least if you've managed to do that for a bit you make friends you can keep up with even if you can't do the acting anymore. I think we need Ages and Stages everywhere.

On the other hand, as you say, being alone is great for writers. Being able to enter your world and stay there at length without having to emerge every half hour to answer the telephone, arrange parcel deliveries, take people to doctor's appointments etc is far more likely to lead to a productive use of writing hours.