Pause for thought…
Somebody said that to me this week and I was indignant. Me? Charge headlong into something, make snap judgements, rush ahead, push for action over procrastination? Never. And then I thought, hmm, well, maybe. I won’t divulge the particular context of this comment but I can say that reflection helped. In the end I didn’t form a different opinion but I handled the issue differently, and got better results.
Later on in the week, it happened again. An issue came up and I wanted to jump in and handle it straight away. This time my friend wasn’t there to tell me to pause. My finger was ready on the trigger of my smartphone to fire and I had to count to ten…slowly, thinking of the words of my wiser contemporary as I did so.
Writing is a constant fight against this instinct. One the one hand, I go with the flow, write as it comes and get it all down on the page. But really, long form is on the front line against this instinct, and in writing longer pieces I am forced to deliberate, turn things over in my mind, develop my ideas and handle things differently.
I was reminded again of the appeal of the long form when a friend and fellow Faber Academy alumna’s blogpost appeared in my inbox recently. Her post was a story about a palm reader who had told her how many children she and her husband would have and it reminded me of a similar experience of my own. The post was so appealing and the storytelling so engaging I thought again of my original reason for writing novels: to communicate in 3D. In my view, novels provide a multidimensional form of conversation, where interpretation is not only possible but necessary.
Despite my urge to write really long form material – i.e. books, I’ve become attached to quick posts on social media in recent years, something that eats my time and chips away at my quality of life, my friendships and my integrity. I’ve noticed that others are similarly addicted. Connections have become just that, mere connections, lines between dots in a virtual world, and the deeper, soul-satisfying feeling of true friendship and personal connection has been lost.
Time to stop.
Time, instead, to get writing again, posting long form content, crafting new stories, a new novel that will be years in the making but something I’ll find worthwhile. Time to jot shorter thoughts down as poems, not posts, and to look others in the eye and talk into the small hours, face to face.
As my third novel, WorldCult demonstrates, we are hurtling towards a world where an cavernous online void could swallow us all up. Take one influential, smart individual who knows how to manipulate his image and ideas across the internet, add to that the intense and desperate loneliness of the modern, virtual age, and….boom!
By the way, the irony isn’t lost on me that WorldCult sells better as an online product than a paperback, but if you’re interested in more of my thoughts on the subject, delivered in a way that allows pause for thought, interpretation and deliberation, why don’t you read it?
A friend asked: ‘I loved it, but what does the end mean?’ to which I gave the inevitable answer. I know what I think it means but I am not going to tell you, as this is our 3D communication at work – you decide what you think and we can discuss. We can discuss it until the sun goes down and into the early hours. Face to face.