I don't think you can disagree with the fact that writers need solitude and quiet. To burrow deeply into our creative minds, we need to shut that figurative--and possibly literal--door, and have the time and leisure to think. I know this is true, because for the first time in 16 years all three of my children are leaving the house for extended periods of the day, an activity commonly known as "school." Frankly, it is amazing to see how much I can get done when I don't have to deal with catering to five-year-olds or blowing the referee's whistle during sibling spats.
This week I read two resonant articles by writers I greatly admire. The first is by Junot Diaz, who wrote the stunning The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which I briefly talked about HERE. Here is what he said to the Guardian, via the always interesting Shelf Awareness. The text in bold is my doing:
Time for Reading 'Should Not Be an Unattainable Thing'
"Books are surviving in this intense, fragmented, hyper-accelerated present, and my sense and hope is that things will slow down again and people will want more time for a contemplative life. There is no way people can keep up this pace. No one is happy. Two or three hours to read should not be an unattainable thing, although I hope we get to that stage without needing a corporate sponsored app to hold our hand. The utopian in me has my fingers crossed that we haven't quite figured out the digital future just yet. After all, the one thing we know about people: they always surprise."
--Author Junot Diaz in an interview with the Guardian
(Junot, I'm trying to prise out my eye-teeth for those two to three reading hours you mention. I'm lucky to get thirty minutes before nodding off to sleep at night. Still need to work on that!)
Then, from a longer piece from an Oregon writer, Matt Love, who's a great essayist:
Commentators frequently place the primary blame on cellphones, but really, fault lies with the addicts who habitually wield them. I say all this with a unique perspective because I live near the No. 1 tourist attraction in the state -- the Oregon Coast -- and routinely see tourists on the beach allowing cellphones to conquer their solitude. And I'm not talking about using them to take photographs or write poetry. I'm talking about willfully abandoning a temporary isolation to engage in what the Sex Pistols called "blah, blah, blah."
(I tell you, the "Smart Phone" has taken over the known universe. I may be an alien life form: I don't have one. But I've certainly watched enough parents ignoring their children at playgrounds and swimming pools in favor of staring at mini-screens.)
It's easy to sound holier than thou, but I really think a writer can benefit from taking a detour off the information super highway--even for just a couple of hours a day. What think you?