For the first time in the almost 23 years that my family has made home in this house, I realized that we sit on the top of the hill, higher even than the plantation house that crowns this place. This is significant, of course, if you think about plantation landscapes (the master’s house was almost always on the crest of the hill so that he could oversee everything), but it’s also significant because I had never taken the time to notice it until last night.
From 6:06pm to 10:06pm last night, I closed my computer, left my smartphone in my office, and went and did other things. Sad as this is to say, that may have been the longest stint I have gone without checking email, Facebook or Twitter in months, if you don’t count those eight hours when I sleep. It was a wonderful and also a hard four hours. I kept reaching for my phone to check in; I felt deprived. See, I told you it was sad.
But now, on this end of that time, I realize I didn’t miss anything. . . (No offense to any of you who posted brilliant witticisms during those hours.) I feel great, too. I spent four hours actually disengaged from the “big world” and focused on my “actual world” – like the fact that I was sitting on the top of the hill.
There’s this pressure in the writing world to “build a platform,” and quite truthfully, as a writer, I could spend almost all day every day just doing that – blogging, posting insightful articles for discussion on Facebook, commenting on writerly woes on Twitter. And to be even more honest, I wouldn’t mind that – it’s certainly a lot easier to tweet than it is to write 1,000 words. Plus, if I don’t do all this stuff, how will I be a writer? That’s the nonsense my brain spews at me.
Last night, in my self-imposed experiment, I was reminded that it’s not my internet presence that makes me a writer; it’s who I am, who I’m crafted to be, the fact that I’m not well if I don’t write – that’s what creates my identity as a writer.
So each day, I will spend an hour in the morning, perhaps an hour at mid-day, and an hour at night taking care of all my internet business; the rest of the time, well, you are all just going to have to save your brilliance for those three hours, okay? I need you all – my online community – I just don’t need you all the time.
What I need are more moments when I can sit and realize that I’m on top of the hill.
What about you? What’s your internet habit like? Have you thought about curbing it for the sake of your writing life? For the sake of your mental health?