Mrs. Avery is Haunting Me & Awesome Idea at End of Post

Let’s start with the ridiculous today, shall we? For the last three days I have been suffering from a virulent earworm. (I get a lot of these, but rarely do they linger so long.)

The song?

Sylvia’s Mother by Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show. Please suffer with me:

And who wrote that song? Shel Silverstein. (Isn’t it time for long hair on guys to make a serious come-back?)

I’ve been thinking a lot about Haiti and what I can do to help. The first thought, of course, is to sell everything I own and buy a boat to sail down there so I can just do something, anything, like dig in concrete or pour water or adopt a thousand kids. None of that is realistic, sadly. I am, instead, thinking along the lines of auctioning off a character in my next book and sending the proceeds to a Haiti relief organization. More on that as it develops.

I am very proud to say that The NOLA Tree, an organization that coordinates teens who want to make the world a better place with projects that need their help, is stepping up to the plate. Up until now the focus has been helping to rebuild houses in New Orleans. Phil Bildner just blogged about the possibilities that The NOLA Tree can be of use in Haiti. Please read his post, send suggestions, and donate. (Truth in advertising: I am on The NOLA Tree’s board of advisors – totally volunteer. So is Ellen Hopkins.)

Bookavore, my daughter who runs a bookstore in Brooklyn, gave a presentation last week aimed at booksellers, but applicable to all of us. Her argument was that if we all spend ten percent of our time doing something that we care about that is fun, it more than enhances and enriches the remaining ninety percent. She uses her experience running a basketball league for book nerds as the model.

If you’re having trouble watching Bookavore’s video, you can read what she said on her blog.

I did a couple a super Skype** visits last week, one with a middle school class in Mississippi, and one with a public library in Colorado. I was asked a terrific question:

If you could collaborate with anyone, who would it be?

I’m not sure I would be a good collaberator with another writer. I am something of a control freak (my dog and husband are rolling on the ground laughing – they claim it is a bit more extreme than that) and so I would probably turn into Ms. Bossy Pants and my co-collaborator would flee the country to escape me. That would defeat the purpose.

I think it would be fun to work with someone in a different artistic field; a musician (looking at you, Tori Amos, please, please, please), the way that Shooter Jennings and Stephen King just worked together. If Tori is too busy, I’d jump at the chance to work with Dave Matthews, Jill Scott, Gretchen Wilson, or Sting. (Sade would be cool, too, but I know she’s real busy because SHE HAS A NEW ALBUM COMING OUT!!!) If you know any of them, feel free to let them know.

I answered another question that was posted on a friend’s blog this week (paraphrasing):

I blog, I read blogs, I have a FaceBook and a Twitter feed, and I read those of many other authors. But the online stuff is beginning to take over my writing time. How much is enough?

I started off my answer to her by waving a magic wand.

I hereby give you (all of you!) permission to turn off the Internet. Reading blogs will not turn you into a published author. Writing blogs won’t either. Writing books will. You have precious little time after your other responsibilities and if the goal is to write a book, well, then… write it.

I have an idea!!!

We had NaNoWriMo in November. December and January have been filled with revisions for many of us, and by many of us, I mean ME. And many of us want to finish up the current project so we can get hopping on the next one. So………..

Let’s make February a blog-free month.

(I heard that gasp. Breathe slowly. Into a paper bag. With your head between your knees.)

Do not panic. February is short! We could call it the new BFF: Blog-Free February.

If you do this, you’ll be at the cutting edge of the next digital trend: the Slow Media Movement. Give everyone a heads-up that you’re stepping away from blogging for a couple of weeks. If you are truly bold (or desperate) make February an Internet-free month, not just blog-free. On March 1st, write a blog (or a letter) evaluating any differences in your productivity during February.

What do you think? Pros? Cons? Shall we turn this into a Thing or let the matter drop because we need our blog reading and writing like we need oxygen?

**If you want to set up a Skype visit with me, email queenlouiseATwriterladyDOTcom.

22 Replies to “Mrs. Avery is Haunting Me & Awesome Idea at End of Post”

  1. A blog-free month is a brilliant, compelling, and alarming idea. I suspect if I went cold turkey, something just as frivilous would step in to fill the vacuum. Still, it sounds like a great character-building experience.

  2. Maybe I’m the only one but I feel like we are generally heading in the direction of less blogging. I see fewer and fewer posts these days of any length, but especially long ones, and fewer commenters. Maybe it’s facebook or twitter that’s doing it.

    Maybe we’ll converse by shorter and shorter methods. Soon we’ll back to Morse code.

    An Internet-free month, though? Bring out the paper bags!

  3. I’m debating whether or not participating in a blog-free month. It’s how I keep in touch with a lot of friends. At the same time though, I’m all for the Slow Movement Diet — if only I wasn’t trying to get hired as a teacher for September!

  4. You’re a mind-reader! I DID gasp when I read your proposal. But it’s intriguing. I’m at Midwinter in Boston right now. I brought my laptop and got a little twitchy last night when I couldn’t check my email/ blog comments/ facebook. I refuse to pay $15 for Internet in my hotel, when I can get free wireless at the convention center. I lived. I even walked Beacon Hill this morning and the exhibit floor before logging on. What would an unplugged month feel like? Maybe, I could give up sugar and other unhealthy foods then as well. Food for thought.

  5. Blogging I can do without. Same with all the networking websites and emails and the like. But internet free would be a little more difficult, especially for people like me who has professors sending out stuff through emails/university websites. I had a whole internet-free summer and it didn’t bother me at all. There’s plenty to do without being glued to a seat in front of a computer/laptop screen.

  6. BFF sounds like a great idea. Turning the internet off while writing definitely affects productivity. Unfortunately I’ve been intermittently blog-free for the last two years. :/ Personally, when I’m away from the internet for more than two weeks I end up feeling out of touch. I think this is only because so many of my friends and fellow comic artists are scattered across the country.

  7. Hi Laurie,

    I had my own little nerdy moment when I saw your Tori Amos mention, haha. As a reader and music fan, I’ve always enjoyed it when authors and musicians I enjoy collide. (Metaphorically speaking. I’d feel bad if you REALLY crashed into one another!) Thanks for making me grin today and best wishes with your blog-free February. I’ll miss your posts, but I totally understand your need to do whatever you feel is best for your writing.


  8. Are you looking for more balance in your life because you’re spening too much time blogging? Methinks not.

    Or are you looking for permission to write write write and ignore the blog? Ah, perhaps. Guilt does run in the family.

    Do what you need to do, but come up for air once in a while. A study of clergy/missionary burnout in India by two British men several decades ago sought to understand how Jesus was able to preach and teach in a healthy way. The example they delineated works for all of us. In brief:
    Understand and be comfortable with who and whose you are.
    Eat with friends.
    Take time to be alone and pray.
    Walk a lot.
    You don’t have to work ALL the time.

  9. You Are Simply Brilliant! Or maybe just your idea is? πŸ™‚

    Too much of a good thing, can become a bad thing. I vote for a BFF!


  10. I agree with this. I also have a lot of research that I need to be doing online. I could probably go without facebook and StumbleUpon and even LJ but there are legitimate things that I need the internet for!

  11. Ohhhh, you know what? I am going to do it. Internet-free February!!! I am EXCITED. And maaaaaaybe a little bit terrified. I don’t blog much at all, but am a serious internet surfer. I can surf the internet longer than a regular surfer can surf…waves…of water? Hm. This is why I need to practice writing more often.

  12. Laurie,
    In mention to your Tori Amos comment… I have a college friend who LOVES Tori, and tried desperately to get me interested in her about oh, 9 years ago. Despite AndrΓ©’s persistence, I only have been seriously listening to her music for the past couple of years. I teach middle school, and bought Wintergirls this fall, and a few students were interested in reading it so I read it over Christmas break before bringing it back to school. Being a pseudo-reading teacher, I also printed off discussion guides for a bunch of your YA novels. One of the discussion guide questions dealt with the title for Wintergirls- where do you think it came from. After listening to Tales of a Librarian and Little Earthquakes, I think you were inspired by Tori’s Winter. Am I right?

  13. I’ve been online for 25 years now — the idea of taking a month off is kind of intriguing, just to regroup a little, though overall I think I want to keep blogging as part of my life. But time out can be a good thing. (pondering)

    And one can take off from social media and still read/answer email. (I might even get better at keeping up on same!)

  14. I love Dr. Hook, and the irony that that a guy who wrote children’s books could also pen such raunchy lyrics. Seriously, would you want a 7-year-old fan of Where the Sidewalk Ends to listen to Freakin’ at the Freaker’s Ball? (Well, okay, as a matter of fact, I did at that age, and it didn’t completely warp me.)

    I’m not a particularly prolific blogger. I aim for one post a week. Right now I’m doing a bit more commenting than I normally do because of the Kidlit Comment Challenge, but usually I’m more of a lurker. And during the summer, when I’m wearing my landscaper hat rather than my writer hat, I tend not to blog or read blogs at all. So for me, taking February off wouldn’t be a good thing. But I do know that my various internet activities are detrimental to my productivity. I wrote a post this week addressing this very issue. Sometimes social networking needs a good pruning job, or it will take over your life.

  15. I totally loved Stephanie’s presentation. She is so funny and she seems so natural and relaxed up there in front of the audience. I liked what she had to say and I especially liked her delivery. You must be very proud of her.

    And about BFF…Oh how I wish you had have mentioned that earlier! I already had some guest author interviews scheduled for my blog and some book reviews that I’ve promised my readers, so it can’t be done, but it sure sounds like a great idea to me. I’ve already had to miss quite a bit of time, here and there, from when my laptop has been acting up, so I don’t think it would have been that much of a shock to my system; maybe next time, OK?

    Happy Writing!

  16. The blog-free month sounds great. xD

    I’ve been trying to cut back on my Internet use lately (notice that i’m late replying here?). It’s impossible to gauge whether my productivity is up, but i do feel like i’m multitasking less and feeling generally less stressed. And i’m reading more.

    No no-Internet month for me, though; sorry, i cant just leave all my Internet-friends for a whole month. :<

  17. I [mostly] gave up sugar and “junk” food two or three months ago. It’s very strange to see it all stockpiled around the house now. The most interesting result is that after a few weeks, i no longer liked the taste of many of the foods i liked before – they taste too sweet, too salty, &c. Plus i dropped a few pounds, have clearer skin now, and have a larger appetite and less need for snacks than before.

    Anyway, i hope you take this comment as encouragement. πŸ™‚ Good luck!

  18. Just stopping by to say that you’ve inspired me to step away from the internet in February: no blogging, no google reader, no facebook, no twitter. I look forward to reading what other folks who play along think on Mar 1!

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