Important Life Lessons from Day Three Without the Internet (sort of)

by Leigh Matthews on March 5, 2013

writer without the internetWelcome to my lovely new abode, perched on the third floor of an East Vancouver apartment building, with a balcony big enough for a desk when the weather turns warm. I even have my own office space where I can hide all the writerly things (read: thesaurus, pile of notepads with nonsensical scribbles, hip flask). The only problem: there is no internet connection. The silver lining? It is shiny with new hope.

No internet connection… How could this happen to someone who earns a living writing for, predominantly, internet-based markets? It all results from the debacle of housemoving creating a delay in scheduling internet hook-up and then the engineer being unable to get things working even when he did arrive. I have another engineer scheduled to fiddle with things later in the week and, in the meantime, am relying on the kindness of friends for their WIFI (thus saving my wallet and my adrenals from the perils of cafe-based writing).

So much of our lives revolves around the internet that going cold turkey even for three days has created challenges. Did my rent cheque go out? I can’t check my balance online. Have all the new blog posts been published as scheduled? I’ve no idea. Do I have library books overdue? They have no stamps in them (alas) so I don’t know. Has anyone posted a picture of their cat? Yes. I don’t need the internet to know that that has happened, it is a fact of life.

Moving into a new place occupied my brain for a while as I cleaned and built furniture and rearranged things and rearranged things and rearranged things and drank champagne with loved ones. Then, when work should be recommencing I’m at a loss without the internet. I go to google something but have to, instead, rely on my brain to remember things. I sit down to write a piece for one of the sites I manage and point my browser to PubMed to spend a few hours trawling through journal articles that may offer up a couple of nuggets of information. No internet. No PubMed. My finger hovers over the little X in the top right corner and I close my browser, watching all forty tabs disappear. I usually write in googledocs but this is not, now, an option. I open Notepad++, I get out a notebook and a pen. I make tea and do not pause halfway through the process, leaving the bag stewing because I heard my email client’s bleat at a new message.

I discover, in just a few days without the internet, that my brain knows things. That those things are able, in the quietness bereft of cat pictures, to pour forth onto the page, to make sense, to entertain, to do, in short, what I am paid for and what I had forgotten I was capable of. In the absence of emails and Facebook and compulsive bank balance checking (fellow freelancers, you know), I remember why I am a writer, how to be a writer, and how to be a writer who I would want to read. My words speak with confidence because they have been drawn from inside my brain, from things known, not ideas merely reflected back at short notice from a mishmash of online sources clamouring for attention and, afterwards, easily forgotten.

Outside, there is the noise of traffic, the apartment rattles gently as an articulated lorry passes, I hear the beep of the crosswalk and the calling of crows in the naked cherry tree abutting my balcony but all I really hear is silence. Inside my mind there are words and, I realise, it has been too long since I have given them space and time to tumble forth.

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: