Sunday, July 8, 2007


Well, that wasn't so much a vacation as a convalescence. And just a partial one, at that. The pattern of most days was do something in the morning, nap in the afternoon, do something in the evening, sleep. The days that varied from that were not so happy. The times when I wasn't on an outing or sleeping I was bleary and preoccupied, mostly reading and being bitten by bugs. (I collected an enormous number of bug bites, including one from a tick--possibly several; the usual mosquitoes; some from bugs I couldn't identify at all; and some that I think may be from fleas. There may be a little poison ivy mixed in for good measure, it's hard to say. Usually if I get it, it's unmistakeable.)

After all of that sleeping, I am far from caught up on sleep. I could keep doing that for another month and I wouldn't be caught up on sleep. And I probably should, if only my life could stay arranged that way.

Except that the way that I was managing to find all that time to sleep this week wasn't only that I wasn't at work. It was that I was mostly, not completely, but mostly, not writing. I was looking over my feed reader (feeder?) most days, but resolutely not clicking around other people's comment fields. Because I was unplugging, seeing as how I was on vacation. And compared to my usual nervous habit of hitting refresh every time I pause, I was unplugged. I wasn't wondering about the conversation, I wasn't checking to see who'd responded. I was disengaged. And I felt flattened. I don't think it was causal, but I am also not sure it matters. Energy and writing are very connected for me just now. Not always good energy, often nervous, keep-you-up-all-night energy, but connected, definitely.

It is the manic part of my year. If I weren't so underslept I could take better advantage of it. So far, I have only managed to work that buzziness into writing. It is as though writing is a black hole for buzz and none escapes to get me going on other ventures.

And that has led me to wonder a lot about writing. And blogging as a specific medium in which to be writing. Having been at this for, what? almost five months, not terribly long but not quite green either, I know that this is one of the set pieces of blogging: "it has taken over my life, I can't give it this much time, other things are suffering, etc; farewell, my friends, I'm taking a break."

Which is not what this post is. I just took that break. Not the first one since I started, but the lengthiest one, and perhaps the most considered one. I entered this break not in a state of despair but actually riding high, in some ways, from the posts I put up before I left. I was very sad about Diva Dog, but writing the Dog's Life set was a sustained effort I hadn't yet made on the blog. To the extent that I'm using this space as a personal writing workshop, as a way to consider what it means to have a talent with words and exercise and hone it, those pieces felt to me like a success. A sort of mini-foray into a chapter form.

However, I'm not a writer. Not professionally. My life isn't actually structured to give me time to write, so when I do write, I'm stealing time from some other part of my life that is more important to my family's well-being. Usually, it's work or sleep. Sometimes, it's parenting, insofar as I let A. take on more Z. tasks than I feel completely unguilty about her doing. At least I let her during the summer, when she's available to take them on. Funnily enough, I don't feel so guilty during the school year, when I'm responsible for more of Z.'s routine.

On this vacation, this blog-break, I was with my family and I thought about them a lot. I was sleeping so much that I can't say I was exactly functional with them, but I was considering deeply what I'm doing to them in running myself down. I thought about my health. I thought about my work as little as possible, because it WAS vacation after all, but I thought about it some in the context of blogging.

I don't have answers. I'm trusting that if I feel better because writing is in my life, I should keep writing. I'm grateful to have a spouse who is willing to accommodate my need to write. And I have to find a way to do it without paying so steep a price for it.

Thoughts on this topic would be most welcome.


Jenny Davidson said...

Oh, yes, you must keep writing; but I do not have any good advice as to how to have that without trading off other stuff! I will e-mail you if I think of anything more practical, I feel this is not quite the place...

jo(e) said...

I've always made time in my life for writing -- just as I would always make time for eating or sleeping or being outdoors -- I think writing is healthy.

What I find difficult sometimes about blogging is that I can spend too much time surfing around, reading other people's blogs, leaving comments, and that kind of a thing.

I find it easy to set limits on how much time I spend writing each day (I allow myself one blog post each day, and those are usually written while one of my kids is at a music lesson and I'm out in the car with my laptop), but it's harder to set limits on surfing blogs because it seems like something I can do whenever I have a spare minute or two. And yet, reading other blogs is part of blogging, so I can't give it up altogether.

I just came from a week of camping so I was naturally offline for the week, and I find that unplugging for a week every now and then is very healthy for me.

S. said...

Don't worry, Jenny, I will keep writing! And do email me with any thoughts on writing and balancing the rest of life.

Jo(e), one of the things that I miss in my current life is that kind of unavoidable-wait down time. On the scattered days when I am home with Z., I have her lovely, three-hour nap for writing. (I will be so sad when she outgrows it!) But when she's at day care or A. is home with her, I don't even have the down time of a commute.

And I am so with you that clicking around comment fields is both essential to blogging (as an interactive medium), and also its deadly undertow....

Phantom Scribbler said...

I won't link and send you more stalkers, but I've just posted my own contribution to the genre of blog angst.

S. said...

Phantom, I emailed you re: your post.

And I'm not sure if I should thank you for not linking or tell you I'm mostly fine with links. My stats never did return to their pre-yak state--they settled back down at maybe 10%-15% higher (which is 5-10 extra hits/day, for me.)

I guess it depends on whether you frame it so the link looks like catnip to curious pixies.

(un)relaxeddad said...

It's tricky, isn't it? Blogging is definitely a substitute for the kind of sustained writing I just have no time to cultivate at the moment (something to do with a 3yo and another on the way!). On the other hand, the feeds have multiplied and multiplied and I feel this compulsion to try and read everyone who's good enough to pay my little corner of the blogosphere some attention. I'm also trying to balance my parenting blog with a more work focussed one under my real name. Hooray - another set of feeds to read! I never realised that writing involved so much reading :)
Using a reader has speeded things up a little but it also lets me read track too many more blogs all too easily.

Not much help so far! I just have to blog in ten minute bursts with interruptions (e.g. whilst I'm writing this, I'm sitting next to dudelet watching Cbeebies with him and answering questions) but big posts happen infrequently - that's for the evening instead of TV.

In a way it's a substitute for the writing I'd rather be doing but it's so much better than no writing at all. And the community aspect as taken on a life all of it's own - if I suddenly magically had space for the other writing, I couldn't stop this...

S. said...

(un)relaxeddad, one thing I like about my reader is that it lets me lurk deeply--and if I find sites I haven't clicked in awhile and don't miss, I'm getting more ruthless about deleting them.

Blogging in short bursts--yes.