Sunday, January 26, 2020

Updates from the Social Media Detox. Also a word about what's good.

Okay I cheated a few times, glancing at the news and then immediately wishing I hadn't, but no hops onto social media, except to look at an update from a group I belong to, when I noticed I had 68 notifications, which I am proud to say that I ignored.

I realized I spend a lot of time clicking on my phone out of habit, and if I'm not looking at social media, I'm looking at something else. The quality of sleep I had according to my Fitbit, or the status of my reserves on my library card, or the weather for the next five days.

To combat this ding-dong-y impulse-clicking, I've sprinkled books and magazines and reading glasses around the house (ie. the bathroom).

Which helped me read three books and listen to three more.

Also, I painted the master bedroom closet and it's so beautiful and pristine and fresh-smelling and orderly that all I want to do now is stand inside and admire it.

And I called a friend I hadn't talked to in three years and we talked for two hours and vowed never to go so long between catching up ever again.

And I organized the linen closet and binge-watched the show Fleabag, which is hilarious and brilliant and heartbreaking, and discovered a new restaurant with my husband and toured a place downtown called the Idea Foundry, where you can play around on 3-d printers and laser cutters, and I took my mother out to lunch and I wrote 8655 words on my book.

A few days ago, I did a presentation for my writing group on goals and inspiration and lost myself in the making of it-- tallying up all of the writing I'd done over the years and what did it all lead to and why have I chosen to spend my time mulling over ideas and writing draft after draft and submitting and collecting rejections and returning to my laptop to start all over again, story after story, which may or may not ever go out into the world...

After the presentation a man in the audience raised his hand and asked if I thought all of those books that never sold were any good. I think what he was implying was that if I thought the books were good, why didn't I just go ahead and publish them myself?

I stammered a little about how I'm more interested in traditional publishing than in self-publishing, but now I wished I'd tried to answer the actual question,

if I thought my books were good.

Putting aside the fact that the question is kind of snotty (I mean, yeah, I think my books are good. WTH?), it also assumes that the end result of a book, as a thing that can be sold and earn money for the author, a thing that can win awards and appear on a bestseller list--is why writers do what they do.

And maybe it IS why some writers do what they do.

It certainly is nice to have a book on a shelf, an award sticker, a royalty check, but in the end, if you're a writer, you're going to sit down again after your book is a finished thing and you're going to begin working on the next story and the next and the next.

So here's the real question:

Is this a good way to spend your time?

In this world of social media and never-ending news, a non-stop whirl of entertainment specifically designed to grab your attention and keep it, a halt in that whirl, a willful pause to sit for an hour in front of a keyboard is an act of defiance

and joy.


  1. A very good use of your time. Good for you. Sorry I missed your talk!

  2. Thanks, Kathy! I'm sorry you missed the meeting too! We'll catch up next time :)