I've written about this before, but I'll say it again, veering off from the crowd is such a goddamn freeing, liberating feeling. Every time I do it, I feel I can breathe again, think again. Every time I do it, I close my eyes and revel in the silence.
So why do I do social media at all, you might ask. Why don't you just stay off the social channels for good, J.L.? Focus on the important things, the writing things, and forget about the noise. Why do I do it? Short answer: because I've been promised the world if I conform. Because every site featuring every indie blowhard get-rich-now scammer proclaims it so. If I am on Facebook, glorious things will happen! I will find readers and influence...other readers! If I get a thousand followers on Twitter, fame! Notoriety! The Nobel Prize!
I can't listen any longer. I am tired, and all I want to do is write.
Earlier today, a friend tried to show me a Superbowl commercial. "No, thank you," I said, "I don't watch commercials." I found the idea so offensive that I was perhaps a bit too forceful in my words. And yet, I do watch commercials. For marketing, for attracting reader interest, for being absolutely and insanely entrenched in the crowd in the off chance that I might one day speak to the right person. But these slick men and women (in a format that hearkens back to the infomercials my grandmother watched in the 1980s) don't promise that I'll become a better writer, that I'll write a spectacular book, that I'll blow my readers away with my voice and story structure and craft. They all have one thing in common: the point is to make money, and lots of it. Throw out schlock and put a snazzy cover on it, and then market the everloving heck out of it.
It's not that I don't want to make money. It's that I want to keep my soul. I want to get better with every book, and I want to feel the intensely-expanding burn in my chest when a story is about to burst forth. I can't do any of these things if I'm obsessed with money. There's a reason for the old cliche about the starving artist/writer/whatever. Sometimes you need to starve for a while to build that fire in your belly. Sometimes you need to step away from the crassness of business to focus on the words.
There is loneliness in solitude, but the road to hell (for me) is paved with unnecessary small talk.
Today, my husband told me I needed a year to write. Maybe even five years to write. Nothing else. Just write. No social media, no noise. He knows me, you see. He can see me struggling with balance, the art life versus the people life. Even though I argued with him at the time, I realized he was absolutely and maddeningly correct. I am just not the kind of writer who can wear many hats. I have one battered and torn hat, and it's the only hat for me, and I love every crease and stain and tear. So I'll just keep wearing my writing hat now, eschewing all the sleek and elaborately polished hats for the time being.
Just write. Just write. Just write.