When I was on vacation recently, I was tapping away at my computer keyboard, and a travel mate asked me if I was working. It made me feel, well, guilty. Here I was on vaca where I’m supposed to be putting aside the daily grind.
Another friend received a blog of mine via Mail Chimp (or scheduled email), and texted from the mainland to say, stop! Put down your gadgets. It’s time to rest. I understand what she was saying. And I love her for that advice.
So I stopped. But then I felt worse. Cranky. Like I was constipated with thoughts that needed to be expressed. And I realized…
I’m not working. Am I playing? No. Not really. What I’m doing is staying sane. Processing life. Defining myself. Does a poet stop rhyming when he travels? Does an artist stop sketching? A dancer stop dancing?
Besides, writing is my pleasure. Blogs, songs, musings. And on vacation we have more time to do what we enjoy. Right?
After the publication of my book and all the new opportunity to reach like minds, writing has taken on new life. I’ve developed a latent crush on the English language—obsessed with learning new words (and I’m delighted when I actually remember their meaning the following week)! I'm having a love affair with thesaurus.com and I feel high when I discover a perfect adjective. Last week I spotted a missing comma in a description of a painting in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam...and I couldn't wait to discuss it with my editor. A comma, for God sakes! But I digress...
Admittedly, the optics of someone with their face glued to a screen tapping away at a keyboard, oblivious of everything and anyone else around them, are not exactly congenial. I get it.
How bout that couple at a table for 2 scrolling their Facebook feeds…or texting? The one they’re with is not enough. My husband suggests we’re all looking for meaning inside screens instead of inside ourselves. Or each other. Eek. #Truth. But I digress again…
Anyway...I don't think my vacation buddy would have questioned my activities if I were “journaling” (thank you Connie Lim—AKA Milck—for this most excellent verb). Paper and a number 2 pencil are a different medium. They’re warm and easy on the eyes. More forgiving. Metal and blue light are cold. Mechanical. Anti-social.
The problem is my penmanship sucks. The muscles in my fingers have atrophied because I rarely write anything by hand any more. I can barely inscribe a birthday card. That said, I can relate to the distaste for the intrusion of gadgets in rooms where, if not for them, a meaningful conversation might be had. Undivided attention between 2 people—even people who haven’t seen each other in a while—is a thing of the past. :(
But creativity can’t be scheduled. It has a mind of its own. Ideas fall from the ether when least expected…more fervently when least convenient. And often, when in the company of others. They are fleeting golden nuggets. We'd be remiss to ignore them. We may think we'll remember them later but that's unlikely. And if we do they won't be as clear or as compelling as when they first occurred.
All things considered, out of respect for any present company, henceforth, I’ll take my tapping outside…or into the bedroom, the bathroom, or a closet, so as not to have anyone think I'm not enjoying their company. Because I (probably) am. But I’m a writer. And a writer writes. All the time. Anywhere. Whether she's at home, or at Trader Joe’s, or the South of France.
I write. Therefore I am.
"HANDWRITTEN"....a ditty I co-penned with the Amazing Julia Michaels (Issues) and the fantabulous David Gamson.