The Morning of a Book Launch

About fifteen years ago, I began a daily ritual: wake early, walk to a coffee shop, write.

I became a writer.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am more of a talker than a writer. At the start of the process 25 minutes of writing (à la the Pomodoro method) was agonizing. A mix of stubbornness and desperation (my career was floundering and a tenure decision was looming) led me to stick with it. Hundreds of blog posts, dozens of academic papers, and three books later, I now qualify as a “not bad” writer.

On this morning, as I launch Solo: Building a Remarkable Life of Your Own, I find myself engaged in my longstanding ritual, a practice that has become a remarkable part of my journey.

I should be posting on Instagram or X to get the word out. Yet, I write.

The Story of “Solo”

Solo: A wholehearted person who finds fulfillment beyond a romantic partnership (i.e., not incomplete). Good at parenting themselves, Solos seek self-sufficiency and autonomy, viewing a romantic partner as a potential way to enhance life rather than solve their problems. They challenge societal norms—romantic or otherwise—which opens new ways for them to live remarkably.

By transcending relationship status, Solos can move in and out of romantic relationships without losing their identity.

With age 50 approaching and a desire to wind down my work on humor, I chose to create a resource that I wish I had when I was 25 and struggling to figure out the “relationship” side of life. As a young man, I often felt like there was something wrong with me. I wanted romance and sex (I was desperate to fall in love), but I didn’t want all the trappings of the relationship escalator. I enjoyed my solitude (especially living alone) and never wanted kids, which made dating a fraught endeavor.

Recognizing that marriage and kids was an unlikely outcome in my life and questioning why only married people get to celebrate their singlehood, I threw myself a bachelor party as a new professor at the University of Colorado Boulder. Fifteen friends flew in from across the country to celebrate with me.

Stories were shared. Backs were slapped. Glasses clinked.

My friends made the right choice. I never married and doubt I ever will.

My transformation from single to Solo occurred in three stages.

My sense of autonomy and self-sufficiency started early around age 13, as  I started working to buy my school clothes and was tasked with parenting myself as a latch key kid to a single mother working three jobs and struggling to keep the lights on. I grew up fast.

Becoming “wholehearted” happened in my late thirties as I was grieving a heartbreaking breakup caused by my lack of desire to have a child. I was a mess for a full year.

One day, it hit me. I remember exactly where I was in my apartment when I had a simple yet profound insight:

“I am happy when I am single.”

I recognized that I was not “less than.” I was living a rich, remarkable life. I was happy, healthy, and growing personally and professionally. I had a job that I was thrilled about. I had already traveled the world twice over. And I had a broad, deep array of friendships.

Unbeknownst to me, that insight would lead me to my most meaningful, impactful work.

The last aspect of my transformation happened recently as a result of the Solo project. I have always been a bit impish, but I was discovering new ways to see relationships and the structure of the world. A series of solo psilocybin trips helped speed my reinvention along.

Rather than jumping into writing a book, I launched the Solo podcast, a resource for proud (and not-so-proud) singles seeking to live a remarkable life. Two hundred episodes later, I had developed a new understanding of the world. One that I would eventually write about.

Singlehood is not as bad—and marriage is not as good—as you’ve been led to believe.

Realizing early on that there were people like me, who felt ashamed and adrift, I started an online community for singles (and allies) to come together to share their experiences, suggest ways to improve the project, and even collaborate with me. Many of my podcast guests are culled from the Solo community. (Their stories are also featured in 24 Love Letters to Solo in the book.)

Living online is no way to live, so I started hosting Solo Salons–mixers inspired by 18th century French salons–featuring music, comedy, poetry, and talks.

A big win occurred early on when Maria Shriver put the Solo on the map by featuring the Solo Movement on the Today Show.

Five years after hatching this idea, I sit here writing (as usual). The only difference is that I have a book to show for it.

I wanted to write something that would distill my insights from lifelong bachelorhood and the podcast into one place. I believe I succeeded and hope the book brings comfort and inspiration to anyone who not yet feels wholehearted.

Like my writing practice, the Solo project changed my life. I am now doing my most meaningful and impactful work. It has pushed my comfort, changed the way I date, and I have a new set of remarkable friends and collaborators.

Many thanks to those of you who supported my involvement in the Solo Movement–and contributed to the podcast, book, and community.

Join the Solo Movement

If you want to help people who feel like misfits for not wanting or not being able to ride the relationship escalator:

  • Put in a purchase request for the book at your local library.
  • If you buy the book, please review it as soon as you can (on Goodreads and/or Amazon)
  • Rate and review the Solo podcast wherever you listen (this matters…a lot).
  • Follow the Solo Instagram account, (@unapologetically_unattached)
  • Tell someone (especially a podcast host or journalist) about the Solo movement. Reach out to me if you need help with that.
  • Invite me to give a talk.
  • Join the Solo community.

Thanks for reading my writing.