Writing is a singular activity, not in the way it's unique or exemplary but separate, by oneself, alone. This may be obvious to some, or intuitive for others, but for me, this drive I have had since I was a pre-teen to write didn't come with any concept of how lonely it would be to embark on a novel.
I have written for others before, but mostly online, in magazines, or in collections, each one published quickly, the response or lack thereof immediate. None had any pretension of art, or were something too meaningful, or trying to talk of a time and place I have waited a lifetime describe.
At first it was simple, I had joined NaNoWriMo with a solid goal of reaching 50,000 words in 30 days. It was a competition of sorts, an exercise to find out whether I could live up to the fantasy of being a novel writer. There were write-ins, events that people gathered to write next to each other. Maybe for some it was a feeling of community they hoped to acquire, but my experience, it was a place writers could gage what others were doing, how far they had gone, how many books they had written before and how many published. Of course, I cannot say what they were feeling, but I found people to be slightly suspicious and embarrassed when asked about their work. It wasn't a place to meet others to talk, but yet there were others to see, try and fail to have conversations with, witness fear in their eyes. Not only that, there were 100 of thousands of other people doing the same, and a website to watch as each region's word count were taken in, real time infographic of which place had the most prolific writers. Mainly, there were a lot of us.
What I didn't expect was after the month, I did not have a novel on my hands, I had the very basic backbone of one. The website had emptied, no longer taking updates, abandoned like a ghost town because the reasons people were once there, is no longer. I hadn't found a single person I could go to the coffee shop post-Nano, and a hunch from the brief conversations I had with serial Nano participants, that the majority of people have shelved or given up on their projects because there was only so much time, because it was an intellectual exercise, because they didn't reach the word goal: they had been found out, they were not real writers, at least not until next year.
There are of course people who are still writing, I just don't know where, or how many.
So it means, I am alone.
This is not a complaint, this is a fact.
I am under no illusion being able to sequester myself for days with no distractions is anything but a privilege.
It's so tempting take a break, to call a friend, to make a plan, but that won't finish the book. To do that, I need to sit, write, even if I don't want to, putting words down, and slowly bulking up the novel, so it can expand like a rubber float filling with air until its full and stops (My version is a leather bound tome rubber float that whistles when it's squeezed).
And sitting here being lonely is how a novel is written.
So I just have to cope.
Even George Orwell and Ernest Hemingway talked of it, and I suppose that's something all writers have to learn to deal with. Maybe this is the final riddle we have to answer, to stop feeling like an imposter, it's not the 50 000 words that makes you a writer, it's finishing the book even when it's so lonely.