I got asked this question this evening and yes, it is a valid one. The ivory towers are now a thing of the past, along with the dinosaur, which is a typewriter. My office is all high tech with a wall of screens, a desktop, fax/copier, modem, router, phone, keyboard, desk, ergonomic office chair, fan, etc. Perhaps not as romantic as a solitary being in an ivory tower but we move with the times. Yes, I have posters, paintings and collages on the wall along with banks of bookshelves. No, this isn’t the limit of my library, just the most relevant stuff I might need for research. My personal predations occupy one entire wall in my basement, floor to ceiling.
I don’t know that I would call writing lonely any more although it was once. I am talking to people on and off all day about this and that. Things like what is the word for…(description of the thing) and other writerly things as well as just chat. I talk to my publisher and my colleagues and then there is social media marketing, which takes up at least two hours a day. In this world, time makes no difference. Cyberspace connects people in the blink of an eye. If out of a working zone frame, then emails and direct messages can be left and will be answered when the person in the other time zone picks up in their waking time. It is not really that much different from working in an office and interacting with colleagues there.
Actual writing is not lonely when the words spill out because it is like a movie running only instead of being behind the projector, watching what is happening on the screen, a writer is behind the screen pulling all the images onto that strip of fabric between the audience and themselves. I think we would all say the same about our characters being very much alive, although they only live in our imaginations. Our worlds are formed right down to the last petal on the ultimate flower and be sure we have figured out a season for all things. Weird really as I don’t know where I am going with a story as I am writing it, although some can plot out an entire novel before hand. Mine up sticks and run away from me, wilfully going in what ever direction they please. The thing seems to take off on a life of its own. Maybe folks would think I am lonely, although this is not what I feel, which is in a crowd, although I can’t see the folks but they are there in cyberspace an unseen but very real presence.
As for a physical presence, I have the very bad cat, who must be with me at all times to supervise. LOL