Analog Days of Spring

I didn’t plan to take a digital hiatus. I sort of fell into it – literally.

I had been mulling it for a few weeks. Yes, yes, I happened to be reading Digital Minimalism (spoiler: I don’t 100% agree with the author’s premises even if I do agree with some of the conclusions). But while that provided the seed, it was circumstance that caused it to germinate.

On March 16th, a day notable for being the day before my birthday, I had a fall. I won’t go into the details (they’re slightly embarrassing and involve doing the dishes), but the end result was that I was immobilized. My left knee was swollen to double it’s size, my darling wife had gotten me a cane without any hint of sarcasm, and I found myself just…not. Not going on Facebook. Not going on Twitter. Not.

The first week was probably the toughest. After a while, though, I realized the only thing I was really missing was some of the news items that would filter into my feeds. Twenty seconds and an RSS link later, that itch was scratched (and, subsequently, unscratched, as I realized some of my feeds reported the same stories as the others). I used to argue that I kept my Facebook account so I could talk to those people I didn’t talk to otherwise. Likewise, Twitter was where I “hung out” with the writing community. But in my absence, I found nothing was missed. The conversations continue with or without me. I’m not lamenting that no one noticed my absence – more, I’m observing that my ego aside, I really wasn’t contributing to the dialog.

This is not the story of how I became an evangelist for the Analog Only movement. I did, though, find that there were some things, especially once I was less mobile, that were easier if I went the “old” way. Reading, for instance, is more enjoyable when you have both the physical mark of your progress, as well as not being dependent on battery life and chargers. I’ve been streaming a lot more music, but on a radio, not a computer. And there’s something magical about unplugging throughout the day.

Don’t get me wrong – I still work for a great, very entrenched in the digital realm company, a company you could call a small social media network (our users interact, even if the primary medium of interaction isn’t words but images). We’re not a place where people go to share their life status, or show pictures of their successful lives so much as a place where a community can come together and share laughs and emotions.

But outside of work, the laptop is more often than not closed, the keyboard silent. What does that do to my writing? Honestly, that’s a great question. I’m still mulling on a novel idea, scribbling down paper notes as thoughts come to me. In the next few days a new daisy wheel for a Brother electric typewriter I picked up for $2 at a yard sale comes in, and I plan on giving that a go (I already replaced the ribbon and have no interest in having a correction tape). With luck, that will satisfy the desire to write with my fingers tapping without needing to be on a computer to do it.

In the meantime, I am long overdue on writing a friend a letter back. But more on that in another post.

No more recaps. No more filler.

This blog post is not a recap. I will not bore you with the minutia of my personal life the last six months. I’ve wondered if blogging – or at least my participation – was finally at an end. Imagine my surprise when I found myself typing up this post, then.

Unfortunately, I have no news to share. I stopped calling myself a writer for a while – after all, writer’s write, and I wasn’t doing that any more. Except that lately, I have been. A few new short stories are floating around the aether right now, and my weak stabs at outlining have recommenced.

OK, because life is fraught with continuous driving when you’re the father of three kids in their teens, I’m just going to leave this post here to be an easter egg in your RSS readers. Later today, I may even clean up the Goodreads feed so it’s closer to accurate.

Until then, here’s the article I’m mulling over today: Outline The Hell Out of Things, courtesy of Jeff Patterson (@jeffpatterson11) who answered my call for help on twitter.

Where did the blog posts go?

You may be wondering just that – where did all of the blog posts go? Why did Cummings stop talking about writing, work, kids, and everything else?

Believe it or not, they are still being written. Sort of. On June 1, I cracked open a new Moleskine journal and began writing in it every day (or thereabouts). Every day, I start by transcribing a quote from a book of daily stoic thoughts I’ve been plodding through. I don’t always add commentary, but I find that the act helps get my mind into the right frame for journaling.

Then I write. Sometimes, it’s a paragraph. Other days, I’ll fill pages after pages. A lot has been going on, very little something I want to air to the public, but all of it needing the act of writing to work through. It used to be, I’d write a blog post to focus some of that. Now, I journal, where I can be a little more candid and a lot more honest. There are no other readers besides myself, and some future historian looking for a snapshot of this mundane life.

The side effect, though, is that I write less on the blog. It’s nothing personal, but I find I have less that I want to share these days. Am I still writing? Not as much as I’d like to be, but as much as I can. I have a few short stories I’m cleaning up, and I can feel the tendrils of a novel trying to worm their way into my brain, though I’d like to see if I can’t actually outline something for a change.

I wish I could offer something more, some promise of more blogging. I know that in general, blogging has died as an “art” form. I think the first of the death knells was when Google Reader was murdered in it’s sleep, and ever since then the art of the blog has dwindled and faded. A few blogs I follow are posting sporadically. One or two blogs that had started to die are coming back, and that’s nice to see too. As for me? I’ll always post things on here, sometimes frequently, other times with huge gaps. If you’re what might be called a regular reader – thank you. Writing anything, even a blog post, let alone a short story or novel, is an extremely lonely and insular activity. You write words with no audience, knowing that the time capsule of your thoughts will be opened and interpreted by someone else outside of your control. How they perceive and internalize your writing can be nerve wracking.

By the way, I completely filled that journal I started on the first of June and am well into another volume already. I don’t journal absolutely every day – I’ve missed two days so far in the last six months, both because of extended traveling. But I get pretty close to writing at least something every day. Analog blogging has its benefits, too.