Because the deceased author James Michener will be a major character in my next novel, now wandering the world alone as a ghost, I’ve been thinking a lot about him.
I realized today that he is another candidate for these lists of people who might belong on the spectrum. For he was a loner among loners. Here is how he put it in his autobiography The World is My Home:
I am a loner to an extent that would frighten most men……..I chose not to become involved in the literary scene on a social level. It did not appeal to me; it did not seem rewarding; it was distracting rather than productive and, most important, because of my personality and attitudes I would not have been very good at being part of it. I have thus remained off by myself, and it may seem shocking that at age eighty-five I have known almost no other writers, American or foreign, even casually.”
What did Michener do instead of getting to know his peers?
Beginning with his World War II wandering through the South Pacific as an investigator for the United States Navy, he roamed the world his whole life, looking and looking, reading and reading, writing and writing those books, all the way to the end. The world of readers rewarded him by buying more of his books during his lifetime than those of any other writer.
Myself, a writer of fiction since I was 20 years old, and now 73 years old, I too have gone through a whole life without writer friends. The reason for that is hard to explain, except to say that it is similar to Michener’s. That’s probably why I’ve felt a bond with him since I first read him as a young man.
He’s long gone now, but he will get to continue that odyssey of his in my coming book.