It’s Fall 2012. I’ve barely written since I banned the cable company from my home. I stopped cable and wifi in June of this year and have lasted six months without much–okay I had my iPhone. That sort of saved me, but still, I couldn’t easily watch TV on the phone, nor could I easily write on the phone. I take notes on the phone when I don’t have a notebook with me (because I write a little every day–have to). The iPhone helped me keep up with email, sort of. The iPhone helped me keep up with Facebook friends, sort of. I did learn to post photos to Facebook and did that a lot–like that makes up for not writing a lot. The iPhone helped me keep up with news, sort of. But I couldn’t write on the iPhone.
My writing became scarce.
I ached a bit for more writing. I had notebooks and notebooks filled with ideas and found I was antsy when I couldn’t find time to write. What I learned about my own writing scarcity is that I created it and it was a bad bad bad thing. When I couldn’t write, I read books (a GREAT thing), and I could argue, I needed that–BUT I also just couldn’t find time to write. My schedule was packed like ten pounds of potatoes in a five pound bag. The only time I write is when I have a morning to myself to think, or a night, or a Saturday afternoon. Seems like I was too busy this fall to do much writing. But I could have still written without wifi–I could have written without access to the web by writing in Word and then uploading my text to WordPress (this blog or any that I work in). But I didn’t do that. I didn’t feel like writing in a static location and then moving my text from there to the live-ness that is a digital, online, whoosh writing space.
What a loser.
Or did I create a massive desire for my writing through creating less of it?
[Wikipedia to my rescue. The print is small but it carries a hefty message.]
No. The answer is most definitely no–I didn’t create a demand for my writing by making less of it available. There is no great demand for my writing even if it is scarce. Ha.
Consider that I have two readers of this blog. Me and one friend. Okay, I might have another friend who reads occasionally. I never did the promotional thing with this blog–that’s not the point of this. This blog is my mental gym.
However, my point connects to economics and the gym: I felt the writing scarcity keenly. I hankered after writing in ways I’m just understanding today. I was like a smoker, I needed to write regularly. I have been writing for the last couple of years–and it’s been fun–if I wasn’t writing here, I was writing somewhere (often for the classes I teach). Even for teaching, I wrote less this fall than normal. So all of a sudden, I sort of quit cold Turkey. I was jonesing for a smoke, I mean, a good essay–a few hours uninterrupted in which I could concentrate on a topic and run with it.
Or a better metaphor would be that I stopped going to the gym regularly, so my writing muscles atrophied. Yuck.
I think part of the scarcity came from these things:
- Rebellion against the cable/wifi/phone providers–I cancel everything but my cell phone in early June.
- Travel for work in June/July.
- Extensive work for the grad writing center at the AWC.
- Teaching classes four days a week beginning in August.
- Teaching two new classes beginning in August.
- Computer drama and replacement at the end of September.
- iPhone drama begins in late September. (Occasionally, it would just blink off–how rude, you say. You are right.)
- Essay to write for a book due in October (better if it had been done in August!)
- T&P dossier to prep and submit in early October.
- iPhone replacement in early December.
- General lack of whole chunks of time.
And none of that accounts for my personal life–details of which are not available on the web.
So, I cut myself some slack.
AND now to my big ol’ whammy of a point (which I alluded to before)–why didn’t I write in Word and just upload my writing later when I had access to the web? I don’t know.
Did I get so used to writing online with access to pictures and links and the whole wide world of information a click away that I got writer’s block from NOT writing all-the-way-live online? Oh Lord have mercy if that’s what happened.
I almost never worry about writing perfectly, but I vaguely remember thinking to myself: “Listen up, you deadbeat, you can write anywhere and anytime. What’s this bull about not writing because it’s not online? You used that as an excuse to slack. You suck. You know you do. Why the retreat? Why the scarcity? What were you thinking? Get over yourself.”
The tough talk didn’t work (I wasn’t even close to being shamed), and it certainly hasn’t helped me answer the question of why I didn’t want to write without the internet right beside me. Nuts.
I wrote a poem on my iPhone the other day, and I took notes in lectures or presentations or anytime really. Whenever I heard something clever, I’d jot it down on the phone. But not much sustained writing has been happening. Even in support of my teaching.
Perhaps it was a perfect storm this fall–too much going on at once, too many things vying for my attention, too few opportunities to think. I can’t quite figure it out. And I think I’ll leave it that way. I’ll see how often I feel like writing now that wifi is back in my life. And I’ll keep thinking about why that seems to matter so much to me as a writer.