Saturday, July 15, 2006

Catching Up (a little)

I got nearly 11 hours of sleep since my last entry. The clean dishes have been put away, the dirty dishes have been washed except for one dog food can (which is soaking; I'm afraid of it), and the laundry is in the dryer. I've thrown away some trash, and moved the recycling to the vicinity of the full recycling bin. I never did get the church schedule page updated, but I've uploaded the clergy page with our new curate on it, using one of the photos with her eyes closed rather than the black and white one. That's not a very big list of accomplishments for the day, but it's a start. I hope to have a much better report for you tomorrow night.

I think my new mail count on this screen name was 75 when I got up today. It's 57 now, which isn't much improvement. For tonight's posting, I'm just going to make a quick stab at one item in my backlog, a Writer's Weekly Question from a week ago.

Writer's Weekly Question #22:
How do you deal with balancing your writing with watching television, or using other technologies? Do those things work as distractors or as enhancers to your creative process? Explain your answer (as if you didn't know to do that).

I actually made my first stab at answering this over on the AOL version of Pat's journal, Here, There and Everywhere. I wrote:

Like pretty much anything else people do for recreation, tv and computers can educate, stimulate creativity, and relieve stress. They can also suck up every minute of your free time - if you let them. If the only thing you want to do with that time is enjoy yourself, then there's no problem. If there's something you aren't getting done because you're doing this instead, that's a problem. But it's not the tv or the computer that's the problem. If you are putting off writing or housework or whatever, that's the problem. If you weren't watching tv, you'd probably find another way to avoid the writing or the housework!

I'm actually not a big watcher of tv any more, despite the fact that I interrupted the writing of this entry to watch the first episode of Doctor Who Series One (2005), "Rose." I just got the DVDs from Amazon today, and the temptation to watch one ep was too much for me. But I haven't watched a single episode of Lost or Desperate Housewives or Numb3rs or Alias or Veronica Mars or American Idol or...well, you get the idea, from beginning to end. I've watched a few seconds, maybe as much as five minutes here and there, but that's all. The only shows I actually set out to watch these days are House, MD (when it's not in reruns), Stargate SG-1 (ditto) and Doctor Who (when available).

Nevertheless, it's pretty obvious that tv, the Internet, computer or video games and even books can suck up all your time. My particular poison at the moment is Wikipedia, but I've had the same exact problem with blogging, Star Trek, Buffy, computer Monopoly and mah-jong, writing and editing fanzines, and even reading Madeleine L'Engle novels. The sad and dangerous thing is that I'm thinking seriously of rereading my L'Engles. The saving grace, if there is one, is that I've read them so many times that I'm unlikely to pull any all-nighters reading them this time around. It could easily take me six months to get through them all, as opposed to the six days I used to spend on them.

Jessica's underlying question, though, provocatively stated as "Is There Something Sucking out Your Brain?", refers to the same attitude that led to such expressions as "vast wasteland," "electronic babysitter" and "the idiot box." People may indeed sit on the couch for hours, passively taking in other people's imaginings rather than producing their own. But how many of those people who have been writing great fiction in those hours, had tv not been available? And how many watched an episode of Doctor Who or M*A*S*H or Lost or Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and were inspired by it to write something of their own? It might be a critique, or fan fiction, or something with no more in common with the original than a related concept: "What if George Bush were an alien?" "What was medicine like in the time of Leonardo?" "What if vampires organized a union for better pay and working conditions?" And so on.

We need input to write. If we go by that gross oversimplification "Write what you know," and we avoid the "distractions" of popular culture, our fiction is likely to be confined to the boring, constrained world of going to work, coming home, washing the dog, feeding the kids. Add in books and tv, magazines and the Internet, and our world is immensely broadened, along with what we "know." We can't all run around the globe, and see firsthand the insides of pyramids, castles on the Rhine, the park where Poppins might have taken the Banks children, the streets of Jerusalem, lions hunting for zebra, and on and on. We can't personally go to the moon or Mars, and we sure as heck can't see Barsoom or Pern or Mâvarin. But books and magazines, tv and the Web can bring all these things to us. Then our mysterious, wonderful brains can assimilate all this material, and synthesize something new from it. We don't have to know where it comes from, this idea about a physics student who can walk though walls, or a monster who is someone's best friend, or whatever else it may be. But chances are good that the idea will never come if you avoid all those nasty time-suckers entrely.

On the other hand, if you're really going to write, at some point you have to turn off the tv, stop playing The Sims 2 or watching Battlestar Galactica, and start typing words of your own.


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1 comment:

DesLily said...

hi Karen.. well it does sound like you were very productive today!!

I think that television/ computer/ books etc.. only keep you from doing other things (like writing) when you "want" them to. As for writing.. when the ideas are there, nothing will keep you from it!
Housework on the other hand.. might take a bit more Ooomph! heh
(thanks for the plug! hehe)