Deep in the Shed: Social Media & The Writer

Social media break: See you in late November.

Blind blues pianist Marcus Roberts burst on to the music scene with his 1990 album Deep in the Shed, featuring cuts like “Mysterious Interlude,” and “Spiritual Awakening,” alongside the title track (the album had a large lineup including Wynton Marsalis who performed under the alias E. Dankworth). The music drew me in, but also what was written in the liner notes. As Roberts explained it an artist had to isolate themselves off from time to time in order to reconnect with their art. The artist had to go back deep in the shed, he said. While not in any way appropriating any specific cultural significance from one artist to another, I adopted the phrase and from time to time find myself implementing its tenet — remove yourself, and return yourself to your art. It might be a first world problem of the highest order, but it is what it is.

For writers today it’s critical.

Today writers seldom work in isolation, in garrets and hovels, or in cold-water studio apartments; today writers work in coffeehouses, (tweet) and even when (status update) alone in their atelier, the contemporary writer is but a window (photooftheday) or two away from Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, you name it. Writers today all too often fall in the forest and wonder if anyone has seen them fall. In other words, today’s writer needs to be visible. William Deresiewicz writes in “The End of Solitude,” that we are in an age of visibility, as modernity was about authenticity; as romanticism was about sincerity. Society at large loathes to be alone; writers who should be, are also afflicted. “Technology is taking away our privacy and our concentration, but it is also taking away our ability to be alone,” Deresiewicz writes.

Writers need privacy.

Writers need to concentrate.

Writers need to be alone.

To wit… writers need to get off social media from time to time. To go back in, and deep, into their shed. To concentrate.

I always know it’s time to remove myself from the morass when irritation is the chief emotion arising from my surfing; where I’m swatting at flies real or imagined, and I’m too involved with being visible and saying the right things that I forgot to put pen to paper.

Writers need to be alone to fill back up. As the Buddhists’ suggest a full tea-cup cannot accept one drop more.

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