confessions / distractions / writing

After You Disappear from the Party

Sometimes I cheat and log in to Facebook, like to wish my mom a happy birthday. I’ve got this blog automated to tweet my posts… so it might sometimes seem like I’m on Twitter, though I’m not. I’ve realized that, when you take the plunge and unplug a few distracting lamps in your life, very few people notice you’ve gone a little dim unless there’s a big announcement about it. And then, when you log back in quietly, just to see, you realize… maybe it’s not so essential to be constantly aware of the conversation. Because, look: it’s gone on without you and no damage done. It’s like when you slip out of a crowded room during a party. You could wonder if, at any point, anyone turned and asked, What happened to her… wasn’t she just standing right here? And would it be worse to discover no one did?

It’s like what happened yesterday. I went to the shore, and I had no internet access all day, from morning until I got home at past 1:30 a.m. What will I miss? I wondered. What if something important gets emailed to me and I don’t answer right away and I miss out and there’s a big problem and what if?

Guess what I missed?

Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Someone needed to reach me about a freelance project, but she didn’t email, she picked up the phone and left me a voice mail.

In my email inbox, I came back to various announcements from arts organizations. Junk messages, deleted, all of them.

And I think this is the lesson I’m forcing myself to learn right now. Something I thought—still think—is so important may very well not be, in the scheme of things. What happens if I unplug, entirely, for a day? Nothing of consequence! How horrifying.

So what have I been doing while being (partly) invisible? Freelancing, yes. Swimming in the ocean, no (the Atlantic was freezing yesterday). Writing, yes yes. I’ve been working on something that could turn into SOMETHING. Sometimes I’m so excited about it I want to log in to Twitter and tell everyone all about it and then I realize: telling other people doesn’t make something real. Doing the work makes it real. These pages, right here, every minute I spend with them instead of talking about them only makes them more real.

So I’m trying to work harder.

But, all around me, there are people who work harder than I do, with far greater obstacles. I watch them and I’m amazed. Sometimes I wonder if there will ever be a moment when I stop and pat myself on the back and say, You’ve done all you can. I sure haven’t, not yet.

7 thoughts on “After You Disappear from the Party

  1. Who knew trash bags could be part of such a neat picture?

    Thanks for the reality check. I know it was *your* reality check but I’m keeping it in mind myself.

  2. Thank you! I’ve been coming to this realization too, and slowly distancing myself from the internet. Not completely, mind, but definitely trying to prioritize writing over keeping up with everything. I figure if something’s really important, I’ll hear about it eventually. I do wish I could blog more often, but I’m not sure if I feel that way because I think I should or because I actually want to…

  3. I’ve been making some gradual changes. I’ve cut down on the number of blogs I read in my Google Reader. Instead of reading blogs on LJ all the time, I’ve just started a 90-day summer camp for writers on my own LJ. People have set their goals for the summer, and all I have to do is post each Tuesday so everyone can check-in with how they’re doing. Even though it’s super-busy over there – 124 people signed up! – it sort of runs itself because they are all talking to each other.

    So I’m only posting once a week on LJ and maybe twice a week on my website blog. I’ve cut back on twitter, though not stopped.

    I am trying to clear more space so I can work on a very challenging project this summer.

    You always inspire me, Nova. Thanks.🙂


  4. You’ve inspired me to take this summer off as well. I’m off Twitter (for good, so addictive) and Facebook. Somehow I find I’m getting a lot done but not as much writing as I expected. But I find it interesting that the idea behind all these sites is that what we’re doing/saying is vitally important. And then you disappear and find that it totally isn’t. It’s an odd problem.

  5. I don’t usually read blogs….a least not until last month when I started to follow yours. =) I can truly relate to your thoughts about being a writer and a person. It is really frustrating that even though I realize spending tons time on the Internet is only temporary, I do it quite often anyway. It is refreshing to stop and say…pursuing my dreams and gaining real meaning is found in the real world, not behind the screen.

    Also, I really loved your comment, “telling other people doesn’t make something real. Doing the work makes it real.” Very convicting… Thanks

  6. These are the things I’m also discovering in my absence from Twitter, FB and the BBs. The hardest thing is still thinking with my internet brain. It’s hard to turn off the little voice in my head that wants to share with people I know online. I love what you said about it:

    “Sometimes I’m so excited about it I want to log in to Twitter and tell everyone all about it and then I realize: telling other people doesn’t make something real. Doing the work makes it real.”

    It’s so true but so hard to remember once you get used to sharing everything.


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