There are so many authors throughout literary history who are famous, not only for their literary works, but for their reclusive lifestyles. In some cases, such as J D Salinger, and Emily Dickinson, the author is perhaps better known for being out of the public eye than for his/her other literary contributions.
So what is it about literary life or the nature of writing that drives this decision for some to shut out the outside world?
For one, writing is largely a solitary activity. Being in the public eye, constantly berated with an onslaught of fans, editors, and critics hounding one about one’s work can, I (must) imagine become tiresome.
Secondly, so much of writing comes from personal reflection, philosophy and general “soul searching”. Creating a personal philosophy is something that one must necessarily do alone – not to discount the importance of outside influence.
And of course, one cannot ignore the important work that this device has given us such as Thoreau’s” “Walden” and Longfellow’s American Translation of Dante’s Inferno.
But, before you go off to put a down payment on a rural farmhouse and cancel your phone service, keep in mind that so much of what we write and where we get our ideas stems from our experiences. It is our connections with other people, the events and activities in which we participate that gives us our material. Sure, some may have the intellect or imagination to gather ideas without the benefit of getting out in the world, but they are few and far between. For most of us, it is living that provides us our inspiration.