Friday, July 31, 2015

Which Way Did She Go?

I didn't disappear. I've been right here.

I just discovered that if you're going to disengage for a while from the Writing Community, it is best not to announce that you're going to do it, or say when you expect to be back, or what you'll do while you're gone.

If you do that, you haven't actually disengaged.  You've just gone into Stealth Engagement Mode.  (I would explain that in a lengthy blog post, but that would put me back in Full Engagement Mode. So I won't.  You can figure it out for yourself.)

Also, I'm not going to give you a progress report or a list of plans, etc.  (Uber-Full-Engagment Mode!)

The Writing Community is a Time and Attention Sink-hole. A Vortex of Doom.

(You're being sucked in, Camille!  Disengage!  Disengage! .... Oh, what the hell....)

It's not actually the company of other writers that is the problem.  (This is why I have continued to engage with people on Twitter, and even take part on Twitter chats.)  There is, however, an element to the online writer community where I feel like I'm wearing my work clothes.  There are social obligations and professional codes lurking underneath.  It's like ... the Academic Community.

Okay, except in certain circles, it's not as bad as Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolfe?  But there is a nagging careerism, a subtle imperative to make connections, build reputation.  If you don't end up actually posturing, you do at least find yourself striking a pose now and then.  You  begin to limit your own thinking, even.  Not consciously, but when everyone around you is marching in step, you have to make a conscious effort to break out of step -- and that is almost as limiting as just going along with the crowd.

Sometimes, you just have to put some earplugs in for a while, and restrain yourself from taking part.  And then you can start hearing the rhythm of your own heartbeat.

So I'm all Zen right now, and I intend to stay that way for a bit.

I'm not going to talk about writing for a while, though I may talk about publishing -- that is the big cultural issues, not the 'how to succeed in' part.

I've been taking a break lately by flinging myself with utter abandon into my family history and geneology.  I am currently locked in a battle to the death with my great-great-great grandmother and her mother-in-law (or, at least, one of her mothers-in-law) both of whom seem determined to make the tracing of the family impossible by marrying, remarrying, changing chlidren's names, farming out kids and taking in kids and changing their names....

And I thought my great-great-grandmother's husband, the drunken French Canadian lumberjack, was going to be the interesting/difficult one in the family tree!

Anyway, I started a blog about my journey into family history -- Clues to the Past.  I will update it fitfully, and probably mention things here too.

In the meantime, see you in the funny papers.


Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I hear you on the engagement issue. I'm a lurker unless I'm called out somehow to participate. And lurking works well for me since the arguments, for me, are all academic...there's little I can do to influence the industry one way or another, so it doesn't bother me much. But it's interesting to read opinions (yours are always well-constructed). Zen is good!

I've always been fascinated by genealogy, but ours is well mapped out (on my mother's side...DAR stuff). The Spann side is more mysterious and interesting. Sounds like you're also enjoying the mysterious part of it all/the challenge!

The Daring Novelist said...

I've got pilgrims up the wazoo -- on my father's side in particular, whereever it isn't French Canadian, the lines go back to the mid-1600s. (And the Canadian lines may go back that far, but I expect when I get to them, it will be harder to track.)

Those far back ancestors are easy, because so many people have been tracking them, that once you hook in to recorded line, it's just a matter of following it back. But since nobody in my family was much interested until recently in tracking, getting back before the Civil War can be more involved.

Plus, there's so much you can fill in besides pedigree. More recent times have interesting things to discover in newspapers. Lurking family stories from distant cousins. Etc.

Anyway, far back, I found today that two of my ancestors were hanged as witches. A couple nights ago, I followed one of my lines to Ben Franklin's father. (Freaking Ben Franklin is my great great great great great great great great great uncle!) But the Civil War stories and the stories of settling Michigan are the ones I find most interesting.