Plugged In = Gmail Offline

For the first time in more than two months, sitting down at my desk to write, I shut down my email. Which means I won’t hop back there to see if there’s something new, and then click Facebook real quick to see who liked my latest post, then back to email to answer a message or send one from my list to get done, then see if the library has the next book for book club and then check weather — will it ever rain? — and on to Amazon for Oxi-Brite to get stains out of doilies my grandmother crocheted before I send them to my sister.  And on and on, into that endless rabbit hole.

At the beginning of June, when I’d finished a major revision of the memoir and looked at all the weddings and gatherings and family time ahead, the week at the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, a final trip as an Advisory Council member of the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, I decided I was going to take until August 15 off.  Nine weeks with no internal obligation or commitment to writing.  I was going to take a vacation from writing.

I did and it was over last Monday.  The board member and friend and community member went back online last week, but the writer didn’t.  A few times during vacation, in the last three weeks when we were at the pond and looser than I’d been in a long time, David too, I’d see something — a cross hatch of ripples on the surface of the pond, the back lit silhouettes of ducks scurrying from Sam’s dog Quinoa as he jumped through shallow water towards them –and start to formulate the image in language, hold it in words, think about what it might lead to, a poem, an essay?

Then I would think, fuck it.  Why do I have to write everything down?  Could I just have these moments when some small particular pops out to grab a big chunk of world without trying to write it just right so others will see that too?

Last week I wondered about those thoughts, because when I sat down to write, my planned week back at work, I never shut off email, standard practice for me when I’m putting in my few hours a day of focused writing.  It helps keep me on track.  I wasn’t focused.  I wasn’t on track.  Talking with David I wondered if maybe I really was going to stop writing.  At least for a while longer.

“Not having to write everything down?  That’s what being on vacation is,” David said.  Of course.  Fuck it on vacation doesn’t equal fuck it forever.

Obviously.  I just wrote about the ripples and the ducks.

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About Grace Mattern

Grace Mattern is a poet, writer, mother, grandmother, partner, friend, family member, gardener, triathlete, hiker and for 30 years was the Executive Director of the NH Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. She resigned her position at the Coalition on June 15, 2011 in order to concentrate on her writing, while continuing to engage in the movement to end violence against women as a consultant and advisor. Her chapbook Fever of Unknown Origin was published in 2001 and her full-length poetry book The Truth About Death was published in 2012.
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2 Responses to Plugged In = Gmail Offline

  1. Antoinette Purinton says:

    I was thinking the same thing this week about all my picture taking. Why can’t I just fasten it in my mind and not capture it for everyone. Can’t I just admire my property or surroundings, think my thoughts, and let it go. I can. But then I am neither writer nor photographer by trade, just aspiration. Being in the moment is lost when I am transcribing it.
    The voluptuous hole of emails and Facebook and Pinterest etc sucks you in so completely that the day goes by w/o you in it.
    I think I need to be me, aware and conscious of my feelings and myself and not get bogged down in my thoughts.
    So your post speaks to me, as it always does.
    I’m not worried about you being unavailable forever. Hooray for vacation! And introspection.

  2. Grace Mattern says:

    Ah yes, the “voluptuous hole of emails and Facebook. . . . ” So very true. It’s always tricky to stay balanced in the present while honoring my need to write, to record, to refashion experience in some way. I’ve been writing a lot this week and am loving how immersed in that I get. Onward.

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