Living the Quiet Online Life (sorta)

Followup 2 to my “Imma stop feeling guilty about dodging the gotta-be-visible-gotta-react-gotta-be-involved 24/7 noisefest that is modern life” post. Followup 1 is here.

The why of it all is simple: the choice had to be made.

I can interact, manage life’s material necessities, or ideate and create. Not all three. And the world is not forgiving of missing work shifts or failure to pay bills, so it’s the interaction I must trim back.

Each of those activities uses distinct, competing parts of my brain.  Think of them as differing fighting styles or building skills. Each one requires a different set of weapons/tools and protective equipment.

I can clank through my day using two full tool sets at once, but all three? Not happening. (With construction in my basement right now, the analogy could be that plumbers and carpenters can work at once, or HVAC and plumbers, or HVAC and the carpenters, but all three? No one would have room to move!)

Also, switching from one mentality to another is a process not unlike taking off one set of weapons and armor and donning a new set. It takes time and energy to put away all the discarded equipment  properly and get all the new buckles done up right. It’s more efficient to pick which set (s) to use and stick with them for longer timeframes.

Interactive Communications is the skillset that takes the most time and energy to use and maintain.

My non-writing professions all demand extensive, regular communication. I got into them because I’m drawn to learning difficult things over easy ones. Plus it’s much easier to handle interaction in a structured system when I have a clearly defined role. Counselor. Teacher. Retailer. Trainer. Public Service Staffer.

So I’m good at communicating and interacting with people in a variety of environments. Humility not being one of my virtues, I would even say I am VERY good it.

I take pride in being able to readily talk with acquaintances and strangers, to share, inform and persuade–but I do NOT enjoy it.

No, seriously.  The number of people in the WORLD with whom I can interact comfortably–no filter, no forethought before every word, no constant conscious processing of pitfalls and consequences–is a small number.

Writing is work too. HARD work. But it’s work that lets me create, so it’s worth the effort. Hanging out with friends is worth the effort because friends ( yes, that IS a reason.)  But those things are both hard and also two different KINDS of effort.

I can’t do the creative writing if I ALSO have to be ready and able to write or to talk my way through interactions AND have to be able to remember things like eating, dressing, paying bills, and getting to important appointments.

So. Less Interacting. MOAR WRITING. That’s the plan.

Everybody wins.

mussels-756488_640
Image by gadost0 from Pixabay

Would You Read This Book?

My upcoming novel is one step closer to reality.  I have a description to go on my lovely book cover, plus a shorter blurb for online sales sites.  Now I just have to condense it into a one-breath quick pitch.  Yeah. “Just.” Like that won’t take hours and days and weeks of practice.

But I digress. Behold!


The Sharp Edge of Yesterday:

Grace Reed is on the run with devastation hot on her heels. She escaped a religious cult and rescued her children from her ex-husband, but she cannot escape her fate. She is due for rollover – her midlife superpower coming into play—and only time will tell how powerful she will become.

That puts her on the government radar as a threat to society.

SEoY Cover w Title webBig rollovers mean big trouble, and big problems get eliminated. Department of Public Safety Agent Valerie Wade is assigned to Grace’s case and must choose between following orders or fighting for her client’s life. Grace must not only overcome her past traumas and survive rollover, she also has to protect her family and safeguard their futures.

Luckily for Grace, she has super-powered friends on her side. Valerie’s allies Jack, Elena, and Amy will pit their every skill and talent against all odds to flip the outcome in Grace’s favor.


Does the blurb tempt and tease? I sure hope so. If you haven’t met the characters yet (except for Grace) they each have a story in the book Rough Passages, available now from many libraries & booksellers online & off.

(THERE’S ALSO A HANDY LINK HERE ON THIS BLOG, WOW!)

The Sharp Edge of Yesterday is on target to release (or at least be ready for pre-orders) by Gen Con at the end of July. (Have I mentioned that I’ll have a table on Author’s Avenue at Gen Con again this year? I WILL!)

And before that, I’ll be at Capricon (THIS WEEK!) and Cleveland ConCoction in Late March. With books. Rough Passages and all the books from the Restoration series too.

There. I think that’s everything. We’re all caught up. Happy reading.

girl-4489579_1280

 

 

 

 

Reach out and wait for someone (me)

This post is about communication. Synchronous versus asynchronous.

Asynchronous is a lovely word. (I may be alone in thinking this.)  It fills the mouth when I say it. Sounds a wee little bit naughty. Ay-SIN-crow-nuss. It’s a  word that looks like it wants to be turned over and have its meaning thoroughly investigated, but also one that might claw me up if you try to rub its belly.

BUT I DIGRESS.

Here’s the thing. I loathe synchronous communication with the fiery passion of a thousand burning suns. It spikes my heart rate, clutters my forebrain, agitates the muddy bottom of my brain, and generally renders me useless for quiet thought for a long time afterwards.

And unfortunately for me, modern life is one, big, perpetual synchronous party.

Want some definitions? At its simplest, asynchronous communication is reaching out to someone else with zero expectation of immediate response. Some examples:

  • Snail mail aka the old-fashioned postal letter
  • Voicemail on a landline phone answering machine
  • Email (in theory, anyway.)

And now, some channels commonly used for synchronous communicating (listed in order of increasing stress for me…)

  • Text messages to a mobile phone
  • Twitter & Twitter DMs
  • Slack
  • Discord
  • Voicemail to a mobile phone
  • Voice calls
  • Facebook & FB Messenger

All these channels can be used to communicate asynchronously, and some–texts and voicemail, in particular–are specifically designed to be asynchronous. But in practice, they encourage and reward immediate response in not-so-ignorable ways.

And that critically damages my calm.

Partly it’s my crow-like personality.

App badges, little dots next to names, screen banners, counters, blinking lights…I cannot ignore their existence. THEY SHINY MUST CLICK. Peckpeckpeckpeckpeck. Gotta have ’em all.

Every notification system I can turn off, is turned off. My mobile phone runs in silent mode 24/7, so I get no calls except from a select few unless I am expecting a critical, time-dependent call.  I turn off every social media alert the platforms allow.

Several factors continue to work against me.

First, possibilities distract me as much as the reality.

If there might be a message or comment or reaction out there, the possibility pulls me away from doing other things  to check for a response over and over and over…and then I end up media surfing for hours for the serotonin kick of watching new content scroll past and seeing new notifications appear.

Some people can set aside communications for a certain number of hours per day or minutes per hour, or to certain times of day. For me, that’s pointless. Yes, social media platforms are designed to take advantage of my look-shiny-must-click impulse, but blocking it simply creates a different distraction. The infinite maybe is equally exhausting. (Twitter is the least problematic forum for me, possibly because it also allows/encourages/supports asymmetric relationships.)

Second, knowing I COULD respond jumps up and down on my guilt and shame buttons and becomes SHOULD.  And it makes me expect the same immediacy from everyone else in the world, which truly isn’t fair and increases everyone’s stress.

Yes, up at the floaty rational top of my brain, I know most people tagging, posting, commenting, texting, or even calling do NOT expect an immediate or timely response. And I know everyone misses things, just like I do. No one cares that much about my input. Everyone else has busy lives and problems too.

Seriously. I do know these things.

Yet my conscience still tells me I am horrible if I ignore texts or emails or posts in my timeline. When I fail to reply to a comment, text or message, deep down, I feel mean and selfish. And that leads to feeling lost and sad when no one responds to things I post or send. And since new material is always coming in, the emotional maintenance cost on this guilt load gets huge. Talk about a distraction.

So here’s the meaty part: I’m officially adopting an asynchronous lifestyle.

Professionally this is a dicey move, but my outsize need for Quiet Mindful Time simply does not play well with the idea of 24/7 immediate access and interaction. It’s clear that as long as I accept the modern idea that availability is necessity, I am SUNK. So I plan to get comfortable with having a reputation as “quiet and hard to reach.”

In practice I’ve been half-assing this strategy for a long time, but it’s only worked in fits & spurts because it was grounded in avoiding temptation, rather than actively rejecting the availability premise.

This isn’t about limiting my online presence as such.  It’s about managing expectations. I am building a blanket fort and sitting down in it. So to speak. 

Anyway.

Please don’t get angry about future  delays in replies and lack of online participation. Recall that once upon a time, not so very long ago, it was NORMAL to wait hours or days between episodes of interaction.

Maybe no one will mind at all. Probably no one will care. I’m probably worried about nothing. The hard part is convincing myself it’s okay.

Imma go work on that now. Next post will have some practical details and particulars.

cat-1890499_640
Random cute cat

Image by sipa from Pixabay