However, Saturday night I had a slight meltdown in terms of my Internet time. In between housekeeping, laundry, and baking some scrumptious chocolate pumpkin cupcakes, I spent a good chunk of the day on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter, not to mention looking at blogs, news sites, and other non-essential viewing items. I managed to get some writing done, but not nearly enough.
Not good, especially when the weekends are my prime writing time.
So at the end of the day, I decided to watch Midnight in Paris again. It's a film by Woody Allen and is really a tribute to Paris and to nostalgia itself. A writer, played by Owen Wilson, is given a tremendous gift: at midnight every night, he gets to go back to Paris in the 1920s. He meets F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, Picasso, and a host of others. He has always believed that Paris in the '20s was a Golden Age, and that he would have much rather lived then as opposed to his present time. However, he meets a woman living in the 1920s who believes Paris in the 1890s is the Golden Age. It's fun to see how their views of their own "present" shape who they are.
I won't give away the ending of the film (which I highly recommend, BTW), but suffice to say that it speaks to me on a number of levels. Besides the nostalgia part (which I will undoubtedly discuss in a future blog post), it was the commitment to the artistic life that really made me think. Paris was a Golden Era during the 1920s for art and literature, a response to the horror of World War I. But what I love was these artists' commitment to making great art. Sure, they partied and drank and probably smoked far too much, but creativity was at the heart of their lives.
(I'm mindful, however, that most of these great artists in this narrow window of time did not have a family or a mortgage or bills to worry about like most of us do. They were probably content to live in the moment for the most part, yet another response to WW1.)
But if we were to put these people in the year 2012, what do you think they would do? Would Hemingway be on Twitter? Would F. Scott Fitzgerald have a Pinterest board of likely locations for Gatsby's house? Would Picasso have a Facebook page? ( I bet Gertrude Stein would have a stellar blog...)
It's interesting to think about.
I am conscious of the fact that today's world is far different than it was from Paris in the 1920s. As writers and artists, we have a terrific ability to connect with other artists - and our audience. However, I honestly believe that we can destroy our creative life by spending too much time on the computer or iPad or iPhone or whatever electronic device connects us to the world.
Is that too harsh? Destroy is an awfully serious word. But in this case, I can't think of a better one to use.
I have personally experienced a change in my ability to focus. It's so easy to click from one site to the next, taking in information at a quick glance before moving on. This translates over to my "real" life. I find that, unless it's a really good book, I can't sit and read for hours on end. I get restless and want to go do something else. It's the same with my writing. I have never been able to sit and write for hours at a time - I usually get up and move around quite a bit. But lately, I've been getting on the Internet when I need a break. And what does that lead to? More and more distraction, which breaks the focus I have on my story.
What is the solution? In this day and age, it's hard to get completely away without any form of social media - especially if you're an aspiring author who wants to be published some day.
As in so many other things in life, I find that it all comes down to one concept: balance.
So here's my goal. Since I am on the computer all day at work, when I come home at night, I am allowed ten minutes to check my email and my social networks once - and only once - before bedtime. Otherwise, the Internet stays off. I am to use that time to write, read, craft, spend time with my daughter and my husband, listen to music, journal, whatever.
There is far too much to see and do in this world without being glued to the darn computer for hours on end. Why I keep having to remind myself of this is baffling, but I think our world makes it so hard not to stay connected 24-7 that we must make a conscious decision to disconnect.
I have a feeling that by disconnecting, our lives will be richer and more fulfilling. And that, my dear readers, will translate to a deeper, richer, and more fulfilling creative life. This new sensibility will show up in our writing, our drawing, our painting, our gardening, our baking, our songwriting - in whatever creative endeavor we choose to pursue.
Here's to disconnecting so that we can reconnect with our creativity!