Originally Published November 19th, but given the return of the Facebook Blackout in my life, I share again!
(Don’t freak out! I’m not going to suggest you shave your head and join a cult; it’s only temporary.)
Imagine, if you will, a man sitting at his desk. He’s in his office, has no pressing emails to respond to, no urgent calls to take. He leans back in his chair, turns to the window and sees a single snowflake drifting by outside.
Does he think, “I should relish this moment of Zen. Contemplate the beauty of changing seasons and the unique fragility of that single snowflake, the only one of its kind to ever be?”
No. He thinks, “A snowflake? Holy shit, I gotta tell fucking EVERYBODY!”
This is just one of the quiet subversive natures of the Facebook beast.
Facebook Status –
This Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate from Dunkin Donuts makes me want to eat my own face.
Wearing flip flops in November. Yes, my feet ARE cold.
Look at my CAT! (Picture included)
Dude wearing tight pants. I’m not your physician. I don’t want to see that. And please don’t cough.
Don’t think for a second that I am mocking you. I am mocking myself – these are all statuses I have NOT shared since deactivating my Facebook three days ago. I was and am wholly susceptible to this aspect of FB. I saw FB as a means to turn to my friend and make a joke, despite my friend not standing next to me to hear it. Yet, on the flip side of that tendency of endless sharing is the social voyeurism of those who do NOT engage in constant sharing, but do engage in the quiet scrolling that fills the empty space where they would otherwise be forced to spend a quiet moment with their thoughts.
On the plus side, I’ve benefitted from it in many ways over the years – reconnected with friends from Grade School that I love and adore, kept in touch with new friends I made in Scotland over the Summer who otherwise I’d never have spoken to again, started a yearly Christmas party that the whole family attends because of a Face book invite. I proclaim wholly, it has its merits. Yet there’s the not so sexy side as well. The degradation of human relationship, the addictive nature of instant gratification. There is Dopamine involved, self soothing behavior that parallels fidgeting when you’re anxious or eating when you’re bored. It’s mental occupation where once we might have read a book, or in my case written in a journal to quiet my mind. When researching how to deactivate FB chat a few weeks ago, I discovered entire forums on how Facebook Chat caused breakups and blowouts by creating an avenue through which your internet presence is always on display, whether you comment, or post, or simply lurk. Having been stalked (literally. In the creepy, lock your door at night kind of way) via Facebook on more than one occasion, I was mildly unnerved by that.
I’d contemplated the break for a good long time, but found myself unable to resist the simple click and scan that having an iPhone, a laptop, an iPad, etc. offered. Now, with a deactivated account, I have received emails of concerned friends who think I’m potentially living in a cabin in the woods and building explosives. Not having a Facebook isn’t anti-social, ladies and gentlemen.
I’ve noticed the far reaching impact of the social networking behavior. You walk through the world constantly judging experience on whether or not it is worth sharing on Facebook. I only notice it because I don’t share anymore. No, though this Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate is melting my face, it’s so good, it’s entirely acceptable to enjoy it without anyone having to know.
“Holy mother of balls, I have a Facebook notification!” *Spends seven minutes scrolling, commenting, liking, perusing, silently judging, whatever it is that floats your boat.*
It was time. Time to take a break. Time to not be constantly available to people who don’t need to know where I am at all times. Time to let those who are important to me be more than a Facebook post every day or two. And time to let my mind wander again. That’s where all my best ideas come from. I assure you, none of my novels thus far were inspired while scrolling on Facebook.
So though I recognize that some need a Facebook presence for business, marketing, etc., to those who do not – a challenge.
1) Unfollow as many pages and random acquaintances that you needn’t keep up to date with on a minute to minute basis.
2) Delete the app from your phone and only allow a perusal when you’re sitting to a computer or laptop.
3) Go on a Facebook fast. Start with a week, if that seems easy try a month. If you’re like me and having an active account and point/click access is too tempting, deactivate for a while and see how you feel.
Does the mere notion of this piss you off or upset you? Are you afraid you’re going to miss something enormously important as a result of not being active? Are you devastated to think your old friends from Fifth grade won’t be able to get in touch with you for a short length of time? Then you might be addicted.
Don’t feel bad, you’re not alone.
Finally sent my pages to the Agent last night. Even the once over I wanted to give those pages gave me pause. Inertia has set in for a wee bit, ladies and gentlemen.
Yes, I know this is not an acceptable substitute, but the Long, Dark Teatime is strong this time around. Retreating to some room of my own in some podunk nowhere town for a few days to kickstart it all again. Wish me luck.
In the meantime, here’s George R. R. Martin. :P
… I paint.
I always wanted to paint. My uncle and hero, Jack Carrigan, was one of the most talented Guitar Players and Painters that I will ever know. His paintings were around the house as I was growing up and I grew accustomed to being in homes that smelled of home cooked meals, leather sheepskin slippers, wood smoke, and books. I equated those things to home and comfort. It never occurred to me that massive oil paintings of Apples in a Bowl were an uncommon sight in most homes.
I couldn’t quite tell you what it was that triggered the need – A Paint Nite event my friends took me to where I went AWOL and painted something completely different than the assigned painting because I thought it was dreadful? Perhaps. Or perhaps it was just latent and waiting. These are only four of over a dozen watercolors I’ve done; a series of different famous authors – from Rowling to Thoreau – all with the constant urge to do more, do more, make more.
So, I thought I would share, given that we are many of us writers, here. Perhaps I’ll share more down the road as they come to me.
Live long and Prosper.
Was stumbling through a few Amazon pages and spotted this page, already in full effect in advance of the release of Lee’s sequel to To Kill A Mockingbird.
Already available for pre-order. Amazing. I’m launching myself all over it.
First of all, why did it take a lawyer ‘finding’ what was believed to be a lost copy of Watchmen after sixty years for Harper Lee to publish another novel? Was she no longer writing after Mockingbird?
From what I’ve read about Nelle Harper Lee, she went the route of J.D. Salinger and fled the limelight as fiercely as a nocturnal bat flees the dawn. The success and attention of Mockingbird was something I read her quoted as saying, “I wouldn’t go through that again for any amount of money.”
It seems times have changed.
My second question, and this one I find a bit more troubling, is why now? Why, when she was quite vocal about her desire to be out of the limelight, remain reclusive and refrain from producing any future works would the ‘finding’ of this second novel result in her actually releasing it? What changed?
(To clarify before I go on, I lost my mind with excitement when I heard this book was coming out. That having been said -)
Here’s my theory: The decline of Harper Lee is not one of monetary troubles (she makes on average $9,000 a day from royalties for Mockingbird from what I’ve read, or $3 mil plus a year), but one of cognitive decline. She suffered a stroke that left her somewhat blind and deaf, and was ‘forced’ the sell her New York home in lieu of 24 hour assisted living a few years ago. My grandmother on my mother’s side is still with us, wiling away her hours in a home with 24 hour care. I could saunter in there any day, ask her if she knows my brother’s name and she’d stare at me as I was a whack job. She remembers me though, which I appreciate when I see her. Still, if I visited her and asked her whether she’d agree to letting me sell some long forgotten object over which she’d once been very protective, chances are she’d respond with, “Whatever you want to do. What’s for lunch?”
I truly hope Lee is still spry and cognitive, capable of making such grand decisions when it comes to her work and her estate, because there are many who stand to gain from this release. I’m not sure Harper will even notice the difference from her ivory tower.
Anyone who recognized the reference to one of my favorite author’s works; gold star.
We’ve reached the home stretch of writing my fourth novel, THE WHITE DOE. I know everything that happens from here to the last page, can outline and plot it all if need be to rev my engines, but since hauling ass through the month of November (and as a result, winning only my second NaNoWriMo. Thank you, thank you. Please address all congratulatory fruit baskets to Queen of the Universe.) I haven’t written a single word in TWD. Not one. It’s as though I tapped myself out and found even the notion of returning to the work both daunting and downright exhausting. It was flying along before, I was cooking with proverbial gas, but something sputtered out and I walked away from the project, constantly berating myself for the slackage.
It happens with every book I write. Somewhere in the middle, or two thirds in – sometimes it holds out until RIGHT at the end when I’m a chapter away from done and suddenly even the act of looking at my laptop makes me seethe with a sense of Claustrophobia. It isn’t Writer’s Block (something I’m not sure I believe in). It’s something else, something I have called The Long Dark Tea Time since it happened while I was again hauling ass through CATCH MY FALL (my second novel). When it happened with the same fervor during a completely different project, I became wary. Was it a pattern?
Well, you need three plus occasions to form statistical analysis, as far as I know, so I brushed it and sat on my thumbs for almost a year, letting the project sit and collect dust. It wasn’t until I was a chapter away from done with A SONG FOR THE SEA when it kicked in with a thunderous fury and I sat back and said, “Well, fuck. This is a thing.”
And I’m not the only one. Almost every writer I’ve talked to expressed frustration with this strange anomaly. No matter how well a book may be going, even the most successful writers get hung up on the middle, sometimes.
Given that THE WHITE DOE is the sequel to THE OFFERING, I have a few readers who, I am grateful to say, harping on me to cut the shit. They saw the speed with which she was coming together, were looking forward to a first/rough draft to read by Christmas. Now, they’ve challenged me to get the bad boy done by the time I travel to Scotland (April 2nd, if you must know).
Can you do it, Caitlin? Uh, yeah. I wrote over 50,000 words in a single month, remember? Do you want to?
Sigh… yes. Yes, of course I do, but (insert whining tantrum here) why can’t it just finish itself? GAAAHAAAAHAAAAD!
So the challenge has been accepted, and in an attempt to rally the troops, I am planning a weekend away, tucked into some hotel room in the snowy tundra of New England like some new, female Stephen King, and we shall see if we can’t jump start the work that needs to be done.
Wish me luck.