… or “It’s not You, It’s Me.”
Summa you have been wonderin’ why I don’t seem to have no fun over onna Twitter anymore! S’not true! I still love Twitter, and Tumblr too. But I’ve been spending a lot less time in both spots.
I’m not taking an official sabbatical or anything. I’m not going to sledgehammer my computer and go live in a yurt in the pines. I have not thrown away my phone and replaced it with a telegraph line.
But I am pulling a sort of soft-JD Salinger with a twist over the next year. I’ve very consciously discarded the computer as the primary instrument of my workday (I now write all my first drafts longhand), and I’ve very intentionally eliminated internet connectivity as the primary use of my computer. Whereas I used to check email the moment I woke up, I now generally don’t make time to look at it until 4 or 5 in the afternoon. I’ve set a firm limit of a half an hour online a day, and I enforce that limit with judicious use of the Freedom software if necessary (but on a day when I never turn on my computer it isn’t often necessary).
My motive is not a dislike of the internet (Twitter and tumblr are both a hell of a lot of fun) but an enthusiasm for a new way of working - I’m excited by the results of my longhand experiment - and a desire to open up more time for some other stuff in my life. I’ve only been reading 20 - 30 pages a day and a comic or two a week, and I’d like to see those numbers rise (since separating from my MacBook I’ve been able to read closer to 50 - 60 pages a day). And, y’know, exercise: I should do some.
I also have discovered an affection for writing old fashioned letters of the paper and ink variety. They’re time travelers: messages from the past to my loved ones in the future. Emails are disposable. They come in and right away are buried in the mass grave of your in-box, beneath heaps of other messages.
And maybe the thrills of social media are more thrilling when taken in little doses. Who doesn’t love a cold fizzy Coke on a hot day? But a soda is better as a rare treat instead of something you drink with every meal. I’m an old compulsive. I don’t like the rat-with-a-cocaine-needle feeling that comes over me when I’ve been online for a while, restlessly clicking links and refreshing pages. A tool is a thing you use; when it’s using you, you’re the tool. In retrospect, I guess I’m glad I didn’t win the lottery for a Google Glass. Just possibly I’m not the sort of dude who needs the internet fastened to his face all day long.
It’s not just the internet that I’m thinking about, though. I’m doing Boston Comic Con and Baltimore Comic Con and the World Fantasy Convention in Brighton and then… maybe I’ll squirrel myself away for a while, huh? Within reason, I’d like to limit appearances; I’m hoping to take this September to next September to focus on novels and short stories and some other weird projects of mine. Less time out means more time home and scribbling in my notebooks.
All of this is by way of saying: I’ll still be around, posting stuff here, and on my website, and providing you with my perfect little gems of wisdom on Twitter. But at a lower volume and slower frequency. I’m going to see if I can’t use the additional free time to do some work that will hopefully have a bit more emotional force and staying power than the average tumblr post. And, y’know, while there’s some great information to be found in the corners of our vast internet library, I still believe the big protein doses are in books. Don’t worry, though. Like certain venereal diseases, I’m only going into mild remission. Safe to count on continuing outbreaks now and then. Treat accordingly.