As I have mentioned, one thing I enjoyed about the last six weeks of working on Finch was not being connected to the Internet, or to much else. It’s been a long time since I’ve had solitude. The lack of it can eat away at your center. In a writer, it can shorten attention span, make it difficult to get into that deep, submerged place that your power comes from. Instead of allowing things to come into you, you are continually projecting things out from you, if that makes any sense. It will seem as if you are in a sense accumulating more power, but in fact you are diminished because nothing is flowing into you. It creates fatigue, and a certain amount of irritation.
Now that I have perspective and more balance, I can also see how much white noise I’ve allowed to accumulate around me. Except it’s not really white noise–it’s more of a dark noise, a noise with a substance and texture like an electric shock or sandpaper. It’s a barrage of positive reviews, negative reviews, good vibes from a contact made, bad vibes from a contact made, anger and irritation and satisfaction and fondness and love originating from a hundred glimpsed or participated in electronic conversations. Taken separately, it’s harmless enough, but all bundled together it equates to a hundred received ideas trying to get into your skull.
The total immersion on Finch has allowed me to “reset”. When I start to seriously get back into various writing projects next week, I’ll again be off the internet in the mornings. I’ll use afternoons for nonfiction. I’ll use evenings for edits to Finch and to read the Penguin Classics. A highly structured schedule will be imposed on my days…in order to have the time to write effectly. The 60-in-60 continues to be useful, too, in making me stop and focus on something serious every day. Although I’m sure I’ll be sick of it some days, I also welcome the ways in which this exercise makes me become patient.
Whenever I’m at the end of either writing a book or a tough, long campaign for a book I’ve written or edited, I begin to turn away from it–it’s just a husk, a skeleton, dry and brittle–and I turn toward this kind of space that is not yet filled or complete. It’s dark around the edges. It might contain a horizon, or it might just be a field of stars. There’s a sense of something coming down from above, from a distance, at a great speed, but so far away that even if I saw what it was it would appear to be moving slowly. I can sense the need to become receptive to what’s coming.
But now, as a full-time freelancer, I have both more and less freedom. On the one hand, I am writing all the time. On the other, I am writing all the time. I also have an addiction to the internet, and I have to be careful to manage my time there.
So I find new and unique ways to recharge, and I rely more and more on what would seem from the outside like a straitjacket of a schedule. But from that rigidity comes freedom.
(Adapted from an entry that appeared on the old blog a few years back.)