I've been thinking about community and connection lately. Research shows that our social lives have a direct impact on not only our mental but our physical health as well. Loneliness is evidently profoundly unhealthy. We're wired for connection and to crave a sense of belonging.
Romance writers feel this in our bones in a different way from those who write in other genres. Other writers might describe loneliness as part of the human condition, those of us interested in happy ever afters make it our business to evoke in readers the bliss of connection, over and over again. We strive to stamp out alienation and loneliness, if only for an afternoon.
And yet, writing is necessarily a solitary activity. It's very pleasant here in my sunlit office with my dog curled in the chair beside me. And I'm enough of an introvert that the idea of constant companionship with another human being makes me squeamish. But I also know that I need periodic injections of social connection to keep me sane.
My communities are a series of intersecting circles with me at the center. I think that's true for many people. We socialize in small groups of family, friends, work, clubs, religious organizations, and more, and those sets are as unique as a fingerprint. For me, there's my writer friends, my science friends, the community garden and my family to name just a few.
Some groups I connect with no more than a couple of times a year, others every day, and while there are plenty of people I carry with me from one group to another, no one has exactly the same configuration of interests and friendships as I do. Because we're social animals, the links between us might be our most defining characteristic, encompassing everything else.
Love and connection are important enough to who we are that we really can die of loneliness. Maybe reading (and writing) romance isn't a trivial activity after all.
I'd love to hear your thoughts.