A bit ago my niece got me hooked on making friendship bracelets. She got a little kit, and being an auntie, I got roped into making a bunch with her — and then I couldn’t stop at just one. Though I knit, sew and do a few other handiwork kind of things, I’m not really much of a crafty person. I sometimes enjoy those things, but since film school and full-time work, any of those potential hobbies has fallen by the wayside — almost all my free time outside of family and loved ones is consumed by writing, publishing, blogging or other literary-oriented pursuits.
But there’s something comforting and relaxing about the weaving of thread, the picking of colors, and the fact that within about an hour’s time, I have a tangible object to show for my labors — something that has a beginning, middle and end. I like most that I can’t be on a computer to do it — I like the break away from glowing screens. I like the fact that it has nothing to do with words, nothing to do with writing or editing, nothing to do with electricity. Working with my hands, with a physical medium — it’s such sweet relief, relaxing yet absorbing, and so satisfying when I finish. I’m pretty much on the computer all day due to the nature of my work, and then for hours longer because of my novels and essays — and I’m realizing it’s just not healthy, all this computer time.
But what gives way? I need to make money. I need to write. I can blog a little less, but then I hear the dreaded “should monster” — I should be building a platform, I should be researching agents, I should be taking this webinar or that webinar about publishing, I should be blogging, I should finish my newsletter, I should be better at social media. Should, should, should! Nothing kills a passion more than the should monster! I have been thinking about what it means to be a writer in the 21st century, to constantly hear advice about what we should do, and sometimes I follow it — but it takes me farther away from what I truly love: writing. As much as I enjoy Twitter and blogging, I don’t want it to be a replacement for writing stories and essays. I don’t want to feel a sense of boredom and dread when I turn on my laptop to write, simply because I’m fucking sick of sitting at my computer — I want instead to feel excited to play with my characters and plotlines and language.
(I don’t mean to sound anti-technology, because without it, I wouldn’t have a job, I wouldn’t be so lucky to not work in an office, and I wouldn’t be a working writer. But you can go too far the other way, and while I think the whole idea of “work-life balance” is a unicorn that doesn’t exist, I do think you need to strike a balance with technology — because otherwise it is a vampire that can suck your soul dry. But maybe I’m just feeling a little melodramatic.)
I don’t know if this means blogging less, blogging shorter, writing a novel in longhand, writing it on my iPhone, blogging on my iPhone, tweeting less, focusing more on my newsletter and less on my blog, saving up all my juju for future e-books or chucking it all and disappearing entirely off the grid. (Trust me, the idea is highly tempting.) I’ll figure it out, and figure it out again — I’m sure this is a regular cycle for any active writer. In the meanwhile, I’ll keep weaving threads and knotting string, corralling all the threads until they form a solid, connected strand. In bright, pretty colors, of course.