9.4.16 ‘August was a heavy month and now the nights are drawing in’
August was a heavy month
And now the nights are drawing in
— Bob Geldof
It’s not so weird to want some time off. It can be a little weird to take time off when you a) make your own schedule and b) are looking to take time off from things most folks might consider entertaining. In my case, Facebook.
In August, I vacationed hard. And it was a good thing! But I made a decision late in July that I was going to try an August without Facebook, for a variety of reasons that included:
- It ate up a lot of time.
- It ate up a lot of psychic energy.
- The noise to signal was getting unbearably disproportionate.
- I wanted to turn that time and energy elsewhere, to something active and not passive.
Specifically, the active thing was my next book. And it was easy to both lose time and energy while poring through page after page of Facebook, full of tiny distractions and diversions and arguments and neediness. I also have a hard time not sending a quippy reply when quippy or punny is called for, and I was noticing after doing, say, 20 minutes of that the inspiration to write had all but vanished.
So I washed my hands of it starting August 2, when we left for California. I deleted it (and Messenger) from my phone, and they remain deleted. Now, I’m not made of stone; I dipped in once or twice to check a Messenger message from someone who hadn’t realized I was on hiatus, and once or twice a photo got posted of me so I hit “OK” to put it on the timeline. But I didn’t read it. I did turn up my Twitter participation, but Twitter is easier (for me at least) to pull away from. And it didn’t seem as draining. So while I won’t say I didn’t miss Facebook at all, I just didn’t have it as part of the daily routine. And it was delightfully freeing.
We went to California so I could hang out at my “cruise ship that doesn’t go anywhere” — the biannual Television Critics Association gathering, in which the networks gather critics in a ballroom in a hotel and present their various shows for the fall season, along with cast and some creators. They feed us mercilessly (and the food is generally terrific) and often have odd swag to hand out or leave in the hotel rooms. The whole thing goes on for about two weeks, and I can’t handle all of it but I like to go every year or so to keep a hand in. It also gives me focused writing time up in my room for the times I don’t need to be down in a darkened ballroom listening to the latest preposterous or awesome offering from TV people.
Maury came with, and came with me to catch up with one old friend in particular, someone I don’t get to see nearly enough for a variety of reasons. But it is lovely that when I email the singer of my favorite band (The Trashcan Sinatras) that he and his wife make time for me! Frank and Tanya met us for what turned into a three-hour dinner in Pasadena, and whiskey was drunk and laughs were had and gifts were exchanged.
Later on Maury and I spent a few days in the Sierra Mountains in the most adorable, sweet little getaway probably ever: It was the lower half of a cottage on the Kaweah River, and it was shallow enough to swim and frolic and sit down and read in if you wanted. There was also a small island surrounded by small river flumes and I went out and did some writing there, as you may have recalled if you read my “meat bees” entry.
We got back home and then just a week later were out again for an early anniversary stay at Winvian, this rather luxurious resort in Litchfield, Connecticut that features 16 individually-designed cabins with themes like “Secret Society” and “Music.” We snagged the “Treehouse” and it was just as incredibly amazing as you could imagine. The property was lovely, we had s’mores, we got massages, we played badminton in the near-dark, we drank Schnapps (him) and whiskey (me) and rounded up a game of (no-stakes) poker with some nice local folks.
August was a heavy month, but the weight was absolutely bearable.
I had thought to get into the actual story I’m writing, but I think I’ll save that for a later post. Suffice it to say that while most of the story is brand new, parts of it have a very long history in my imagination indeed. A version of this story — again, a very different version but still with some of the DNA — emerged from me in middle school. I’ve been twisting it this way and that way for years, and it wasn’t until I tried to write a short story with the main character that it opened up like gate and I saw the way through. In any case, once I know it has been safely vetted and is at least in the hands of my fantastic agent, I may have more to say.
What I can say at least right now, though, is that a story featuring a character from The Only Song Worth Singing has been accepted for an anthology! Inkception Press will publish my “Rough Beast, Slouching” story in October (that’s the plan thus far), and once it is available I promise I will annoyingly shout it from the rooftops and start begging for reviews.
I might even post about it on Facebook.
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