My plan was to disappear for the month of February.
Not disappear as in I created a new identity, or I found a real invisibility cloak, or I ran off with Blond Bond, or I decided income tax was illegal so I quit filing, built a hut in some remote location, and lived off the grid.
No, I just wanted to disappear for a little work vacation.
I’ve already posted (twice) about the residency at the artist colony that led to my February decision to disconnect from home, work and the Internet. What I discovered was, the decision to disconnect is a lot easier than actually disconnecting. Here are a few reasons why.
~ People: Friends, family, and colleagues have this strange habit. They want to know where you are and how you are and what you are doing. Some of these people want to know this on a daily basis.
` Technology: In anticipation of the strange habit noted above, I alerted people via blog posts, Facebook updates, email, and word of mouth. From this I learned some people do not actually read my blog posts, Facebook updates, emails, or listen to me.
(What I did not do was set up an email auto-response that I’d be out of the office. I tried this once before. It immediately went live and started notifying everyone who had ever corresponded with me, including the nice state police officer who’d once answered a professional question. He sent a note: “You really shouldn’t send out an announcement to everyone you know that you’ll be away from your home for two weeks, ma’am.” Cringe. I tried to “fix” the alert. It sent itself out again. Repeatedly. Which resulted in another note: “And you absolutely shouldn’t do it four times.” Double cringe.)
~ Willpower: Apparently, I have none. While I diligently worked in my studio during my residency, I could not ignore email. I worried – correctly – that a client or potential new client would miss my announcement and contact me, and I’d look incompetent or rude if I didn’t answer for a month. So I decided I’d peek in on email once a week. Okay, twice a week. Well, really, once every morning. And evening. And then, since I was checking email, it just took a second to click on Facebook. And my blog. See? No willpower.
~ Good news: While I was out, some wonderful things happened. Not to me, directly, but to people I know. Had I actually disappeared and disconnected, I’d have missed it. And who wants to miss a slew of award nominations from authors who contributed to Fish Tales! So, here are my belated congratulations to the following Fish Tales authors for the following nominations:
AGATHA AWARD NOMINEES, 2012:
“Dead Eye Gravy” by Krista Davis, Fish Tales: The Guppy Anthology (Wildside Press)
“Palace by the Lake” by Daryl Wood Gerber, Fish Tales: The Guppy Anthology (Wildside Press)
The Diva Haunts the House by Krista Davis (Berkley)
Choke by Kaye George (Mainly Murder Press)
Books, Crooks and Counselors: How to Write Accurately About Criminal Law and Courtroom Procedure by Leslie Budewitz (Linden)
DERRINGER AWARD. The Derringer Award is the Short Mystery Fiction Society’s annual award honoring excellence in Short Mystery Fiction.
Finalist for Best Long Story:
Karen Pullen, “Brea’s Tale,” Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, November 2011
Finalist for Best Flash Fiction Story:
Warren Bull, “Company Policy,” Yellow Mama, August 2011
Congratulations to these fine authors!
15 thoughts on “While I Was Out”
Ramona, It’s a great idea to disconnect and work without distractions (she says while replying to your blog that she linked to from FB . . .). I use the program Freedom. You can set it for however many hours You Need to Be Alone. Thanks for the mention of my nomination!
Karen, that is good to know for the next time I Need To Be Alone!
I’m happy to spread the happy news. I hope there are many more nominations (and some wins, too) in your writing future.
anks, Ramona! I hope you were able to write, write, write and sink into the world of your novel — in between checking email! (I’m afraid I won’t have any more willpower than you did when I go to a weeklong workshop later this month.)
Leslie, I did sink indeed sink into the world of my story, and I was happy there. I had a productive two weeks, beyond expectations, so my cheating by checking email has left me bemused rather than guilt-ridden. I think it’s a matter of willpower and desire versus temptation. Also, set realistic expectations rather than aim so high, you’ll never achieve it. I know you can do it! You wrote a beautiful story for Fish Tales and an Agatha Nominee reference book. That’s a great track record.
Ramona, so glad your retreat was so productive! As always, you inspire me! (And thanks for the kind words.)
Thanks for the mention, Ramona! I can’t seem to stay away either. When I think how nice it would be to ignore all the messages pouring in, I remember how many there will be when I return. But I’m so glad you got this opportunity to retreat at least somewhat!
Kaye, I did get to retreat. Next time, I’ll do better, but I wonder if it’s possible to really disconnect?
Congratulations on your nomination! Are you shopping for your red carpet moment?
I think it’s great you could check your e-mail and FB and still work diligently and come out with so many words. It’s so easy to start with e-mail and end up surfing. (I know whereof I speak.)
Thank you! I haven’t shopped yet, but I must!
Kathy, I’m happy to say, I got so into my story, it was a pleasure to dive into it and avoid the surfing. There’s a balance to all of this. I found it there.
Any tricks for recreating that balance now that you’re back home? Always the post vacation or retreat challenge… .
Leslie, check in next Monday, where I will be discussing that very thing! (Thanks for the idea for next Monday’s post, too!)
Looking forward to it!
My Google Alerts are slow! Ramona, thanks so much for editing FISH TALES. I enjoyed working with you so much. You definitely deserve a lot of credit for your contribution to our stories.
It’s funny how hard it is to get away from email. Once a year I go without the Internet. I feel like I’m missing something the first day. By the second day, I’ve let it all go but it takes a little adjustment.
I’m delighted that you made so much progress on your story!
Krista, working on FISH TALES was a great pleasure for me. I think it left us all bonded for life.
I never could make the break from email, but I am thinking about making a yearly attempt to cut back on the connections.
Congrats again on your nominations!