Let me describe where I live: It is in Colorado, in the Rocky Mountains, 9,500 feet up. We are surrounded by mountains. Looking out the front windows I can look down Elk Valley for about seventy miles. We are in the middle of a forest. It is very beautiful. We are adjacent to Routt National Forest, and if you walk due West, you won’t see anyone for a hundred miles. Nearest town, Steamboat Springs, is thirty miles away.
The dirt driveway that leads to our house is three-quarters of a mile long and goes mostly up, steeply, and that includes a hairpin turn at the bottom of the last hill, which some who visit often don’t quite make. The population of Columbine, as the neighborhood is called, is, I’m told, thirteen. I’ve never met them all and the nearest is a mile away.
When I describe this to people they often say: “Isolated! Lucky you. How wonderful for writing.”
And indeed writers often talk of the need for isolation. That famous “room of one’s own” and all that.
There is a lot of truth to that.
BUT…when the writing stops, isolation is not so great.
Speaking for myself, I miss contact with people, even the casual contact, such as when I visit my post office (twelve miles away) to pick up mail. As a human being I thrive in cities, where I see people in their endless varieties, their talk, the way they look. From a writer’s point of view, I need those connections. It feeds my imagination, my vocabulary, my sense of place, my sense of interaction.
Speaking for myself, this writer must live—in part—beyond my mind.