For poet and musician Tanya Davis, being alone is a necessary part of life.
“I have this thing where I think if I spend time alone, I will spend better time with people later,” said Davis, 34, on a recent phone interview from her hometown of Halifax, Nova Scotia. “I think I can be more comfortable with myself when I nurture solitude, and I’m not scared of the sad stuff that arises when I’m alone.”
Davis discussed the need to be alone often with her friend Andrea Dorfman, a filmmaker and artist, which sparked an idea for them to team up and create a video poem on the topic.
“There is so much video art these days, and we thought this could be a way to get more poetry out there,” she said.
Using Davis’ poem and music, combined with Dorfman’s filmmaking skills and animation, “How to Be Alone” was originally a short film that played in film festivals, but when they decided to put it on YouTube in 2010, it went viral.
“Within a week of it being on YouTube, it started snowballing out quite fast,” she said. “We went into our local radio station here in Halifax when it was at 100,000 views and it reached a million views rather quickly. It just caught on. Now it’s at nearly 6 million views. It’s really been amazing.”
The viral video led to a book deal filled with Davis’ words and Dorfman’s illustrations called “How to Be Alone” (Harper) as well as a dialogue with fans about the pressures to fit in and be accepted.
Here are some of Davis’ tips on how to be alone: