Mirror, Mirror

A strange thing happened on the way to this week’s post–my internet crashed. Our local service provider suffered a catastrophic fail which has left us without service for 4 days and counting. (Full disclosure–there have been periods of intermittent service but nothing resembling reliability that would allow for functional use of the internet.)

This allowed for quite a bit of reflection. Of course, there was the initial shock value, how would I turn in my assignments (due at midnight on Sunday), not to mention the simple fact of, “what will we do.” Well, we might actually have to talk to each other. The latter, I am happy to report was not such a devastating task. My family likes to talk to each other–most of the time–and we even implement electronic free times to encourage healthy relationship building with our kids.

I am also pleased to report that this time devoid of distractions brought my wife from her book hibernation early (she tends to read seasonally).

As the days rolled by, I started thinking more about life before electronic distractions. I can remember those days (my youngest actually asked me one time if the world really used to be black and white. Yeah, laugh it up, your day is coming.)

I came to a sobering conclusion. I used to read more. I try to make time now to read, but back then–before all of the distractions–I didn’t have to work so hard at it. I didn’t have to make time. The time was always there. Then the light bulb went off. The time is still there, I’m just filling it with other things.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not preaching against electronics. My writing is actually typing, just like many of you. I have gotten spoiled by being able to do some of my research and much of my leg work on the internet when working on a story. Then came my next tangent.

What if I didn’t have the advantage of using the internet to lesson the research workload? What if I had to do all of that manually, get out and hoof around the country discovering things for myself?

Have we lost touch? Are electronics snuffing out our creativity?

I am beginning the very early phases toward a final project in my Victorian Lit class. A portion of the theme I am pursuing and channeling into a thesis lies in the belief by many Victorian authors and shared by many during the era, that industrialization would kill creativity. Is that what we are seeing with this dependence on the internet? Is it just a bunch of mambo-jumbo, a conspiracy theory? Or is there something to it? While we are still creating, is the quality less than it would be if we pursued a more hands-on approach? I have read about writers who still abhor using a computer, instead determined to scribe their ideas to paper with pen or pencil. Does that make them a better writer? Creator?

In short, no? Writing is individual. Each individual must figure out what works for them. But, I feel the lesson here is not to be complacent. Don’t get comfortable in a rhythm lest you get stale. If something is not working, it may not be the story, it may be the approach. Maybe it’s time for a road trip, maybe it’s time to get out and take some pictures, maybe it’s time to get in the world and take your notes instead of scribbling from behind your desk or viewing the world from your office window.

Be open to change and by all means, don’t forget to take the time to reflect. Reflection can sometimes be the only way to maintain that true course while navigating through the chaos.

 

I have so much chaos in my life, it’s become normal. You become used to it. You have to just relax, calm down, take a deep breath and try to see how you can make things work rather than complain about how they’re wrong.

— Tom Welling
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