I traveled to Belgrade on my own. Honestly. I packed a laptop, a camera, two novels, one poetry collection, a hat people with minimal decency would be ashamed to wear, some t-shirts, some trousers, more sweaters than I would need in the warm August weather. And Vagelis, Maro, Ray, Drazen, Dimitris, Danae, Natasha. Vagelis and Maro travel with me everywhere I go. Same thing with Ray and Drazen, even though they’re usually not that vocal. As for Dimitris, Danae and Natasha, they’re newcomers, I only met them a couple of months ago, I’m not even sure those are their names.
It’s ok, I was comfortable in my apartment for one with all this crowd. Each one had his own little corner, his own time to get up and go to sleep. Vagelis walked with me in the streets and the museums. Maro appeared whenever I would meet some young mother. Ray some young woman- not a a mother. I saw Drazen a couple of times in the faces of some men, near the train station. Dimitris was there whenever I would turn on my computer. Danae when I was alone. Natasha before I went to sleep, ok, sometimes in the shower as well.
What were all these people? They are friends gone and friends who have recently arrived. Heroes from my previous book, two years already since it was published, but two short years that haven’t allowed me to fairwell them properly yet. And characters from the next one, people I barely know, still trying to learn their voice and recognize how they walk. They travelled with me to Belgrade like they tend to do everywhere. A loud little bunch, but a great company as well.
So solitude is not an option, even if it ever was a wish. You need to learn to live with the heroes of your books, like you live with your hopes, your dreams, your fears and your failures. They are part of you, your own little demons. Always there to remind you things you should be doing and things you wish you could do better. They might not be actual persons but to you they might become more real than your friends, your family or your lovers. After all, even if everyone else deserts you, even if you are completely isolated, you know that when you call them, they will be there.
You are never alone in front of a blank page.