Saturday, January 02, 2010

Down with the internet - or at least off into part of the day!

Many bloggers are announcing their New Year resolutions, which is something I usually only do in the privacy of my journal: yes, I still have one of those old-fashioned black-and-red hardback A4 books in which I record by hand my writing thoughts, though I must say I write in it far less often nowadays since the internet has swallowed up so much of my time.

And here's the rub. I want to make a resolution to stop using the internet so much, since it has not only eaten into my writing time, but as Tania Hershman has indicated lately, and as David Ulin wrote recently, the presence of the internet in one's life can create a kind of scattering of focus that is entirely antipathetic to the writing of fiction, which for me, and I am sure for most fiction writers, requires a kind of shutting-off into a very personal dream world. It goes without saying that I thoroughly enjoy the social interaction, and the internet has been a stupendous marketing tool for both my recent books, but let's face it, it's like having social get-togethers and sales pitch meetings in your house all day long, and who can write under those circumstances?

But how can I make such a resolution, when the marketing of my books, which come from an independent publisher, depends on my being very much online? Would making such a resolution be the same as making a resolution to stop marketing my books? I'm very much afraid of this, but I guess I'm even more afraid of ending up never writing again.

Later this year (I think - or sometime soon, anyway) Salt will be reprinting the revised edition of my first novel The Birth Machine (which I guess is a bit of a feminist classic - see here [scroll down to Kimberley Osivwemu's entry]), so I'll have to work on promoting that, as well as keeping my other books afloat. But like Tania Hershman, I'm going to try to restrict my time on the internet each day. It will be interesting to see if it's just as effective, and if by being constantly connected I was just wasting time...

I'm posting this across my two blogs, as it seems both very personal to my own writing and a subject of more general literary import.

6 comments:

SueG said...

I'm so glad you wrote this! `This is something I've been struggling with as well. Also, I find myself worrying that if I'm not online all the time, my new friends will forget about me. Juvenile, I know. But I also know that the more internet time I have, the less writing time I have, so something's got to give. I now know that this is what I must write about on tomorrow's blog. Thanks for this. PS So glad to hear about the Salt reprint. Can't wait to read it!

Elizabeth Baines said...

It's interesting that several of us have been coming to the same conclusions at the same time - there are similar comments on my other blog and on my Facebook page.

Julian said...

Yes, this is becoming a very problematic issue for a lot of writers. Thanks for wrestling with it in public...

Best of luck with the renaissance of The Birth Machine, and have a great 2010.

Elizabeth Baines said...

Thank you, Julian, and have a great 2010 yourself!

Jenn said...

I think you're right - the problem for me isn't only that the internet, facebook, twitter, blogging machine takes up so much of my productive writing time, but that the way I use these things forces me to have that 'monkey mind' - flicking about between ideas and images, having fifteen tabs open at once. No wonder I find it hard to concentrate for any period of time on one idea, giving it the space and patience it needs to unravel. I got rid of my television because I wanted the time and head-space. Now it seems like for me, the internet has replaced it. I think I'd miss my blog too much if I pulled the plug completely though.

Elizabeth Baines said...

Yes, Jenn, that sums it up very well: it's that scattering and multiplicity of attention...