A Thoreau moment …

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I am tired of sitting at a computer screen, “talking” or “meeting” with friends and colleagues and “seeing” them in one dimension. Very, very tired.

Recently, I had two back-to-back Zoom meetings totally 3 1/2 hours. (Zooming persists even in our somewhat post-COVID world because of its sheer convenience.) 

I realized this morning how nice it would be to ditch the screens and electronics and live for a while in a cabin in the woods with a stack of good books, yellow pads and sharp pencils, a coffee maker, and a pot of soup on the stove. In fact, I have an overwhelming urge for it.

A Thoreau moment, so to speak. I could go for it, a few weeks of simple, uncomplicated living.

As it is, though, I am stuck in that complicated and conflicting world of the internet. It is very much like standing on the edge of a crevasse, looking down curiously, and hoping one doesn’t fall headlong into it—yet the temptation to jump never ceases.

As a writer, of course, I am grateful for the convenience of online research and the ease of correcting copy, but it comes at a price. One peril of such ease is that I am far too likely to write carelessly with the understanding that I can go back and correct. That might be a good thing, but still I wonder. I often think about Twain and Dickens and Eudora Welty who had no such luxury; how much more exacting their first drafts must have been.

Another peril is the constant temptation to tinker. There comes, I would surmise, a point of diminishing returns when making changes becomes an exercise in futility.

Finally, there is the unrelenting temptation to skid off the path, to click on a post or email that catches my attention and pulls me off course. (I recently joined the ‘Far Side’ Facebook group. That was probably a mistake.)

Perhaps a little Thoreau moment would improve my writing. It would certainly take me back to the fundamentals of pencil and paper. And, I suspect, it would almost certainly enrich my creativity and sharpen my focus.


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