Monday, May 22, 2006

Unplugged, Part 2

Before I was a drug addict, I had so many problems. But now I only have one problem: drugs!
--Lyle, Cecil B. DeMented
Last week I lamented a recent flareup of my Internet compulsion and how it was interfering with my writing.

The good news is that I haven't had much trouble kicking the habit. I'm an infuriatingly non-addictive personality. When I was a smoker (for a few years in my early twenties) I contented myself with 2-5 cigarettes a day and often quit if I ran out of money or caught a cold. I can eat just one Lay's potato chip.

So all weekend I stayed offline except for a few brief e-mail checks on my husband's computer, stolen moments while he was in the shower or mowing the lawn. I had him hide my laptop's wireless network card so I couldn't go online with the same computer I use to write.

E-mail and blogs quickly went from More Necessary Than Air to a mere annoyance. I was left with tons of time and wrists that didn't ache. So I got lots of writing done, right?

No. Turns out, the Internet compulsion wasn't the problem; like most addictions, it was just the thing I used to run away from the real problem.

I'm scared of this book. I've known this from the beginning. I'm trying a lot of new things with it, partly because I think authors should try to break new ground with every book, and partly because otherwise I'd get bored.

Without the distraction of the internet, I had to face my fears and not force myself through the writing just to get it done. Plus, I had a migraine, which always inspires me to treat myself gently. So I stepped back, did some research, some character work, and eventually, with the help of a triple espresso yesterday afternoon, finally wrote a scene where two characters are interacting like real people instead of marionettes.

Breakthrough or temporary success? We'll see.



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