The shot above was taken during a little getaway I took with the family during the July 4th weekend a couple months back. We stayed in the Charleston part of town, over on the southwest side, and that picture was taken when we stopped to rest during a short hike of the South Slough Estuary — a beautiful area. In fact, our house was minutes from three state parks, including the spectacular Cape Arago. A great trip.
It was a fun summer, even if was a bit on the hot side (an early June heat wave set the tone for the rest of the season). The kids stayed busy as usual, with various camps and activities, though we did manage a nice trip to Seattle, riding the Amtrak up there and spending a week bumming around the city doing different things. Kids are now back in school, the university is in full swing with fall term, and after some ups and downs this year that I won’t go into here, I’m back to getting up early and getting two hours in with the writing before heading off to the university. It’s a great balance, as the morning hours feed my need for solitary creative time while the job at the university forces me to engage with the world in ways that serve a completely different part of my personality. Could I write more books if I spent all of my time doing it? Maybe, but I may not write at all if my mental health takes a turn for the worse. It’s a mistake that I’ve seen a lot of writers make, assuming that just because they have more hours in the day that they’re actually going to produce a lot more quality material.
I’ve also drastically cut down how much time I was spending online. It’s amazing how well-informed you can be even with twenty minutes a day if you really cut out what’s extraneous. I’ve also become pretty convinced, partly by reading Dennis Palumbo’s excellent book, Writing from the Inside Out, that consumption/production of information or entertainment is something of a binary state. What I mean is, just as there is huge value in feeding our minds with information, there is just as much value in shutting off the information flow and letting our creativity fill the vacuum. In other words, as strange as this sounds, reading more is not always better. Disengaging, and disconnecting, can have tremendous value to both our productivity and our peace of mind — not just for writers, or artists, but for all human beings.
Anyway, it’s certainly done wonders for my own creativity and productivity. It’s not a new idea for me (heck, the name of this blog is Plugged/Unplugged, exactly because I’ve always believed there’s value in being disconnected from the Digital Hive Mind), but it is an idea that’s become more woven into my daily life.
The next Garrison Gage book is about 80% done. Hopefully I’ll be back with more news regarding the book before too long.