I don’t read magazine articles that much, something I need to work on. However my roommate reads a ton of magazines and sometimes tells me what he read, it is an education of sorts for me. According to my roommate shortly after Jonathan Franzen wrote Freedom he did some interviews. Freedom is a fantastic book, one that someday I’ll reread. But Franzen took a long time, almost a decade after his last infamous fiction work, The Corrections to publish Freedom. In some interview in a magazine that my roommate read, Franzen said for awhile he had a hard time concentrating. Eventually he cancelled his internet and cable at home, and only then could he focus enough to write a powerful fiction book.
In no way am I trying to compare myself to a writer like Franzen, but that situation shows that time management is essential for people trying to write fiction. Last week a funny thing happened that shows how the draw of the internet can foil a writing attempt. First I’ll tell of my goal, about a month ago I took a one day writing intensive class through Gotham Writers. I was so impressed with the class that I signed up for a 10 week course with them starting in October. My goal is a simple one, to write and adequately revise a short story before the classes start in three or four weeks. I enjoy blogging so much, that I have not written fiction since my failed novel attempt last winter.
I thought up a story, perhaps not the most earth shattering or important story, but a simply one I felt I could do. Last Tuesday before I started I posted on facebook that I was going to write a short story, as if the world needed to know this. That night I did write a solid page in small hand writing, a good start. On Wednesday night like a trooper I continued. However before I started writing, I picked up my cell phone and logged into my mobile facebook. I wrote the status update ‘I got my Oreos and my grape soda, now I’m ready to write.’ Somehow when the majority of my facebook updates don’t get much attention, this one did. Several people commented about my diet and writing. The comments were funny, and with good intentions. I wrote a few more paragraphs in my story, and then wrote this status update on facebook: ‘Is Clive Thorpe a good name for a protagonist?’ Shortly after several people commented on that either poking fun or giving me nice encouragement. By the end of the night I paid more attention to my facebook page than what I wrote in the story. I did write a full page in small writing and was at a good stopping point. The next scene well be harder to write because it will be the ‘inciting incident’ part of the story structure that changes the characters life. Wednesday was my last night of writing this story. I planned to churn the first draft out in a week so I could make an effort to revise it well. I think that checking facebook obsessively hindered my attempt. I can salvage it, but I need to get back to writing it quickly.
Aside from writing I’ve been thinking about facebook a little bit, and I think less is more on there for me. A lot of people I respect from work, high school, skating, family, and grad school do not post much at all. They have some restraint, or have better things to do with their time. Some people that post frequently that I follow do make it interesting for me to check regularly, and sometimes posts from various people brighten my day. I think if I have something funny to say I should say it, but sometimes I have a tendency to list off things I did in a day and other mundane stuff. I don’t think I add much to the conversation of my facebook friends, so I will take it easy on there. I’ll continue to post my blogs on there, and share links sparingly. Also if I post less, I won’t obsessively check it to see if people respond to my posts. I won’t take the Franzen route of canceling my internet services, but I do need to put a priority on writing. I think writing nightly is a good goal. At least I should finish this story before the class starts, that is not the most ambitious goal at all and it’s totally possible.