Coming to terms with what solo means
When I first started soloing, I suffered a lot of frustration. When I say soloing I don't mean roaming about a few systems by myself looking for carebears to gank, I mean fighting against other pvpers, most of the time against gangs of them, with no scout or link alt to back me up (though using alts does not declassify you as solo by any means).
I was originally inspired to start doing this by watching videos of the great soloers. People such as Kil2, Kovorix, Garmon, Endless Subversion, the list goes on. Ever since I watched a solo PvP video for the first time (it was Garmonation 7), I was blown away by what these guys could do all by themselves against many times their numbers and knew that this was the sort of skill that I one day wanted to achieve in EVE. But it was more than a year after watching Garmonation 7 before I finally began trying to emulate these heroes of the game in earnest.
In any solo PvP video there is a certain amount of deception needed which is absolutely necessary to create an enjoyable video. You do not see all the ships the player lost while being perma-jammed by Falcons, or because the other gang brought in logistics, or simply because they blind jumped into a system and got caught in a 20 man gate camp. This sort of stuff is not interesting to watch, unless the player managed to somehow overcome these odds, which is incredibly unlikely.
So when I began soloing I was not prepared for what I was about to encounter. It seemed as though every small gang I found to fight had at least one Falcon with it. If they didn't have a Falcon they had a Scimitar or an Oneiros. If they didn't have logistics then they had about 40 ECM drones swarming around you jamming you almost as consistently as a Falcon. I had expected some of this, but had thought I'd have at least 1 good fight for every time I was ganked. Huge underestimate.
During this early period I became quite frustrated and even angry with the state of PvP in EVE. Every time I was set upon by a Falcon or a logistics ship I would rant and rave to my corp mates. “Oh man, these guys are such pussys. What a bunch of faggots. I hope they all go die in a car accident. They're killing solo on purpose because they suck etc. etc.” Often refusing to accept or realise that they probably had that Falcon in their gang because they were expecting to find another gang to fight that also had a Falcon. Or that everyone in their gang had ECM Drones because they planned to use it to jam out enemy gang logistics ships.
Certainly there are some in EVE that will purposely dock in their home station and reship to a Falcon or something similar to gank a pilot they know are soloing and has no backup, and for these people I will never have much respect for. EVE is after all, a game, and I can not understand those who care so much about their virtual spaceship they will do anything they possibly can to make sure it never ever dies. But I have come to realise that most of the time would-be gankers are not trying to gank you, they are simply killing some unlucky player who happened to cross their path while they were searching for a gang of equal strength to fight. Fleet mentality barely recognises the solo PvPer. To a gang a soloer is just one more unlucky sod to jump into their camp and is hardly paid any attention most of the time. However for the soloer, that gang they died to might have been exactly the sort of gang to fight they had been searching for all night, if only it wasn't for that Scimitar. This sort of difference of perspective creates a vast gulf between the soloer and the fleet PvPer. Fleet members are from Mars and soloers are from Venus.
Much of this I believe is a result of something I have come to believe firmly in, that CCP did not really intend people to fly solo in this game.
Why I love solo
So that's the big negatives. I don't think anybody would disagree that solo is an incredibly hard thing to do in EVE. So what's the point in doing it, what keeps soloers going? Well I think it is for the very reason I just stated: Soloing in EVE is incredibly hard.
In my view there are two things in EVE that are at the absolute peak in difficulty. Fleet Commanding and Solo PvPing. Many people, probably most, who try their hand at soloing give up after a while out of frustration. Whether it be lack of targets, too many blobs, too much ECM, the conclusion is always the same: “Solo is dead”. This oft-repeated statement is a big part of the reason I (and I believe many others) persevere with solo. To succeed at something many consider near impossible, something that it seems even the games creators did not intend people to do offers extraordinary satisfaction. A thing easily achieved can only offer a limited amount of fun. What at first seems to be the thing that is killing solo (falcons, blobs) is in my opinion the very thing that is keeping it alive. The rush when you finally get a really good fight, and you manage to win in a situation that most people would consider you defeated before the fight has even started, and you did it completely by yourself, with no help or reliance on anybody else but your own mind and reflexes. Those are the moments a solo PvPer lives for.
So thank you to all those gankers out there. The Falcon and Blackbird pilots, the logistics pilots, the titan alts bridging 30 man gangs across regions to wipe out a single battleship. If it wasn't for you solo wouldn't be like it is, and I'd probably start looking for a real challenge.
Operation: Annihilate Pandemic Legion anyone?