After 5 months of this website and blog, I am taking an open-ended break. I have found that to write the new Shem-novel I must be totally “with” and “in” the story, characters, and, most importantly, in the “spirit.” The latter is the most crucial, meaning that the writer must get out of the “self,” transcend the bonds (“hindrances”) of craving, anger, and delusion–and be into the essence and technical detail of the work. I have found, from this bold 5-month Shem-blog experiment, that a participation in the digital world is at crippling odds with the possibility of writing a novel. Note: I still have a “flip-phone,” vintage 1994, which can do nothing except answer and take calls; it is difficult to do texts–my fingers have to rummage through each button with the series of 3 letters of the alphabet for the right one to press–and I tell anyone who texts me to do so with a question, to which my answer can be either “OK” or “NO.” The digital, all in all, is a hindrance for me–and, it seems, for a new generation of fictioneers.
Not only a hindrance to writing a novel, but to living our lives in real, mutual relationship. Face to face, eye to eye, being-with in mutuality: Seeing each other clearly, and each sensing the other feeling seen. Note that all the “stuff” on this site has been digitized by a fine social media strategist/writer, Lillian Ann Slugocki. I have only provided content for most of the blogs, and none of the tweets. I have no idea what happens to these essays of mine or photos after I take my break–are they eternal? Or merely until the next great solar flare? But I understand, deeply, that without this distraction/addiction, I will now be able to take clear-headed joy in the writing process, and faith in the work. And I trust that the novel will be published by 2018, the 40th Anniversary of The House of God. My e-mail will be checked, at most, once a day or even week/month.
Please do see: this is not a comment on your own electronic life-focus; it is a survival tool for Shem the Penman. When I began this site I had been under the impression that a website would result in increased sales of my new novel. Not. The only thing that sells novels in the long run is “word of mouth.” This is true of all of my novels–and nonfiction, such as, with my partner Janet, The Buddha’s Wife: The Path of Awakening Together, and We Have to Talk: Healing Dialogues Between Women and Men. I hope that much of my time will be spent in Costa Rica, with no cell or internet.
I hope that this parting message of mine might be helpful for those of you with those restless “Google Fingers” and addicted “pleasure centers” of the thalamus and brainstem.
But I am not all that confident: not only is there “a special providence in the fall of a sparrow” (Hamlet), but in an addiction denied.
Tierra Tranquila, Costa Rica
January 31, 2017