Sunday, December 1, 2013

Pep Talks.




This morning I stumbled across my dog-eared copy of Dante's Inferno. The one from my junior year of college.

I wasn't studying it for a particular assignment during that time. It was just some of the "light reading" I carried around in my beat up Jansport backpack in case I ever found myself with a free moment during the day. I'm sure it had something to do with wanting to impress my at the time philosopher peers...(fine,it was a guy). But as I thumbed through it's worn pages over this morning's coffee it was clear to me that at that specific juncture in my scholastic career,it was much more than just an accessory. I really loved that book. I loved the writing of it. The prose was inspiring.(I said so on at least 20 different pages in purple ink and with underlines and hearts!). The spastic scribbles in the margins of that literary masterpiece showed me something remarkable. I didn't just carry that thing around to look deep and detached from the physical world. I really dug it. And when there was time between classes or time between loads of laundry or time during Biology labs, that ratty old book was the first thing I reached for. NOT my phone. And certainly not Instagram, with it's countless uploads of friends and families around the world.

But now...after entering the supposed decade of maturity and really knowing oneself,that is exactly what I reach for when I have a second to spare. No more buying time with great books and great words. Just pictures for this gal please! Any free time is devoured with a trained muscle reaction to grab my cellular device and scroll through a strange amalgam of cute babies,fall leaves,hipster lattes,and a crap ton of selfies.

Now I know what you are thinking. That I must be on the brink of going all 1900's and making sweeping proclamations about social media and how nobody really connects anymore. But I promise you. That is not what is about to go down. Besides, of the seven family members/friends that actually read this little Blorg, know that I myself am just as guilty of posting at least one (if not all) of the above mentioned examples and have therefore lost any credibility to even stand near that soap box. No. The following list is rather an electronic "message in a bottle" to myself. Who knows, maybe someday I'll be able to break the cycle and stop looking at pictures long enough to actually read it.

"Top Five Reasons-Why Instagram has made you (yes you,Jessi) a More Dumber Writer."


1. It makes you think you are pretty dope and famous without ever breaking a sweat. You are able to zoom in on a character, mood, and story, and then self publish...Instantly... all by only ever using your thumb. No red ink. No editors. No blinking cursor. Just you, putting your own wonderful perspective on the world. And you begin to give yourself unearned pep talks. "You are welcome world. That was a great little picture-story of my dog at the park. Don't worry. I will publish the sequel tomorrow." This becomes quite a predicament. By the time you plop down at a desk to do even the start of the work involved putting ink on paper, you're ridiculous self-talk has already convinced you that the process will be easy and void of any actual effort. When faced with the slightest opposition to this fairy tale mantra, say for example the door bell rings or the oven timer goes off, you throw in the towel, exhausted, and instead opt to upload a photo of you at your desk with #thewritinglife #didHarryPottertakethislong?

2. You are an apiring writer. NOT a photographer. Just because you know how to use a filter on a smart phone, or increase the contrast to 1,000 percent on a black and white photo of a brick wall does NOT mean that you are the next Ansel Adams. Get a hold of yourself, woman.


3. No book will ever be written in hash tag form. So stop trying to perfect this skill. Let's be real here, you spend wayyyyy too much time trying to be funny and creative with your number sign narratives and you are wasting actual, good brain material on things that nobody else can read.
#doesthisdressmakemelookfat?icannevertellonmyown
or
#makingchocolatechipcookieswhowantssomecomeonoveriwilltextyoumyaddresswhenigetacall
is just flat out embarrassing. Stop it. Besides. The few times that you do actually sit down to write a word document you are starting to forget to hit the space bar. And that is basic stuff there is scary to think you are losing. #getalife


4. Odds are you aren't going to even read this fourth reason here because your mental timer to stay focused on one thing for more than 2 minutes at a time has already gone off. One can only assume you are on your phone right now at this very moment checking Instagram. So I won't waste any wisdom on number four while you are tied up on another screen.


5. Lastly, constantly looking at pictures has all but ruined your ability to imagine vivid images on your own OR to artfully communicate those images to anyone else by just using words. Which, let's be honest, if you can't do either or those two things...then writing probably isn't your gonna be your bread and butter. In addition to this, if you only ever focus or think about other people's pictures of the real and present, you won't ever be able to create something entirely new or creative. Good thing the existence of unicorns didn't depend on someone capturing it on Instagram. They just are because someone was able to see this glorious, mystical creature and describe it in brilliant detail to someone else. And then BAM. Unicorns were created. Enough said.


So there you have it. My blunt and painfully honest sermon to myself.
The irony of it all is that these things are not at all a new revelation.
Oh no. As a writer, you are well aware when you have found a vice-an escape from the duties of the desk.
I think that this is just the first time I have actually ever vocalized it to myself in written form.
Hopeless much?
Perhaps.
But what's that thing they always say? Something about admitting something...first steps...
Oh I can't remember.
Anywho...speaking of Instagram...







2 comments:

Laura Mullikin said...

This is a good reminder for me too. I love reading...and yet at the end of the day when I have a free moment, I think oh, I should see if anyone has uploaded more photos, or catch up on my un-read blogs today. Oy! What have I become!? Love you.

Heather said...

I read this and then I made Kerry read this. We both laughed out loud. We ponder this often and fall guilty often, too. Never read Dante's Inferno. May have to check it out. ;