No matter how people approach loneliness or solitude or community, we all do. We’re not that different from each other. The way we experience it is different, but we all experience love, pain, loneliness.
We’re always connected, in theory, to people via the Internet in our homes. And yet, we’re growing more isolated and disconnected.
When you close your eyes and picture the Virgin Mary, what do you see? There are countless possibilities, a woman with a halo of light around her tilted head, a cloaked figure with tears of blood or a vaguely burnt apparition on a slice of toast. Your answer will depend on how you were raised, the galleries you have visited, or the books you have read. Regardless of how you’ve come across her, Mary is part of a story you’ve been told. She is a powerful symbol of motherhood. And she is not only a mother, but the mother of Christ. Your view on him will probably dictate what she means to you. In Tóibín’s hand, Mary is more than her role as a mother or a symbol. Instead, she becomes the most interesting of creatures: a credible human.
If I can’t believe in God, I do believe in fiction. Reading a novel is an act of devotion that will slowly, I hope, build an empathetic understanding of people and experience beyond my own.
The career of a writer is always an exception. There is never one way it happens, but the temptation to draw conclusions from another writer’s experience is always there. Do you find it tempting to try to follow the path that someone has taken? This is a theme at the heart of How Should a Person Be?
How Should a Writer Be? An Interview with Sheila Heti by Claire Cameron