Picking up a pen (or sitting at a keyboard) again after a quiescent period is like riding a bike -- a bike whose chain has rusted and fused since you threw it under that tarp out back. It’ll be a few days until I’m ready to roll again.
So what comes next?
One problem with my new digs is that I don’t get wireless in my room. I can’t get online unless I pick myself up, unplug the laptop, and take it downstairs. The drawbacks are obvious: I can’t fall asleep listening to white noise or rain, watch MST3K, or hang out with the Socks crew on turntable.fm. But the inconvenience (like most) has been a blessing in disguise. When I have to deliberately relocate myself and my computer in order to get online, I’m much, much less likely to compulsively check my email and Twitter or spend forty minutes looking at silly things on YouTube just because I can. I’m reading more books. I’m interacting with the local human population more often. I don't hear about the election or pop music anymore, and so I rarely have to think about either.
Simultaneously: I don’t have a personal computer in the library where I spend most of my time. (My bosses transplanted me from my old office into the library office without realizing there’s no Ethernet jack. Whoops!) I can use the public computers, but these are often in use and there are always people coming and going, looking over my shoulder. As a result, I’m taking fewer (and shorter) Internet breaks. When I don’t have much to do (or am feeling lazy or groggy in the morning), I procrastinate by flipping through books instead. Not that I never had fun reloading Twitter on company time, but this is somehow more satisfying.
For most human beings, spending less time soldered to a screen would probably be an unblemished boon. I’m not surfing the web, I’m living my life. I am not a gadget. My Facebook profile is not my identity. I’M A HUMAN BEING, GOD DAMN IT. MY LIFE HAS VALUE. Etc., etc., etc….
For a wannabe writer who understands that uncirculating, inaccessible information is information that does not exist, this change in my habits inspires some concern.
I should be registering accounts on popular message boards, ingratiating myself to the local population so my comic/blog plug will be well-received. I should be adding more books to my Goodreads page. I should join Reddit and actively haunt /writing. I should post chapters of The Zeroes on Wattpad. I should be following and shooting @s to well-established writers on Twitter. I should be sucking up to more literature bloggers.
Promoting your work is just as time-consuming and tiring as producing work.
And I’m still much more interested in writing than networking. This is why my novels will never appear in bookstores. (also, they offend people who review books.) Fuck.
But what am I writing next, I wonder?
In the past couple of months I’ve written a novella and a short story. I probably have another couple of short stories in me. What I should really do is revise and finalize the short novel I finished last April so I can begin the process of trading personalized pitches to literary agents in exchange for impersonal rejection slips. And what I really, really need to do is finish one of the two unfinished novels I have sitting around, but just thinking about it makes me dizzy and weak.
Orwell once said:
All writers are vain, selfish, and lazy, and at the very bottom of their motives there lies a mystery. Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.
But it’s gonna have to happen.
Today I smoked one cigarette -- the last one in the pack.
Cigarettes don’t fill the void. Cigarettes create the void. is what I’m telling myself. Let’s see how many days it is before I go out and buy more.
Borrowing a really nice Meade telescope from a co-worker on the condition that I give his daughters an exhibition at some point. Probably going to wait another couple of months so I can show them the Orion Nebula at a reasonable hour. But it resolves the moon's surface very nicely, and magnifies Jupiter enough to render the cloud bands (although just barely). When it gets colder and clearer (as I’m hoping it will), I’m hankering to try hunting down the Crab Nebula and the Triangulum Galaxy -- two Messier objects that have consistently eluded my binoculars.
Rusty chain. Bear with me, please.