Unmoored in midnight water,
No waves, no wind–
The empty boat is
Flooded with moonlight.
Though this quote by Dogen brings a note of peace, it arrived during a perfect storm.
I came across the quote a few days ago. I wasn’t surprised I liked it–after all, it projects a beautiful image. But I was surprised at how it has drifted in and out of my mind several times since reading it. “Why?” I ask myself.
Recently, perhaps due to the New Year, the winds of previous discussions with my writerly friends have whipped up–discussions on the challenges of balancing the highly-preached importance of social networking with the actual act of writing. Balance? What’s balance? For me, I must admit that in the last several weeks, my social networking time has devoured my writing time.
One friend suggested he was addicted to the Internet. Addicted? Could I be addicted, too? Perhaps the very nature of an addiction is denial. Has my “excuse” of needing to build a social presence been a ruse in my own denial?
1) I sometimes lose track of the amount of time I’ve spent online.
2) I sometimes feel guilty about the amount of time I spend online.
3) I have trouble focusing on other tasks.
An addiction? Sounds a little too close for comfort. One thing I will admit is that being online is hardly being “unmoored.” And there’s no doubt that the Internet is rife with high waves and too much wind. The perfect storm. No wonder moonlight has evaded me.
The New York Times posted an article, “The Rise of the New Groupthink,” which discusses the new philosophy of “groupthink”–that creativity comes from sharing ideas, brainstorming, etc. (Social networking?) However, research suggests that people are more creative in a private environment, free from interruption. I agree completely. I need privacy and interruption-free time to fully get into my story and my characters. One little interruption, whether it is the tiniest glance at Facebook or Twitter, a nudge by my dogs or a question from my husband, snaps me out of my story’s world and back to reality. And, the trip back to Storyland is a far, far distance. Sometimes too far.
So, my — our dilemma — as writers is, how do we balance our need for solitary space and time to create, with the (unfortunate?) necessity to maintain an online presence? Obviously, I have not been successful at both — at least not lately.
So, here is my solution. I’m going to check myself into a detox facility. Well, kind of. I’ve created an Internet Dead Zone in my house. Is it really Internet Dead? No, it’s not. But I’m a writer, and I have an imagination. I’ve added a sign to the door to my home office:
Every day, I’ll check myself into my Internet Dead Zone for at least two hours, where I’ll write or edit, and where I pledge not to turn my wireless on.
If I don’t suffer too badly from withdrawal symptoms, I’ll graduate to an Internet free day, but, as they say, one step at a time. I feel my hands sweating even as I consider it.
Still, I must admit, I’m looking forward to this little experiment. I’ll let you know how it goes — outside of my Internet Dead Zone, of course.
I look forward to being flooded with moonlight. Ah, just the thought of it . . .