Why I Should Not Be Blogging Right Now

Another entry in the monthly column, The Freelance Life, by Ethan Gilsdorf, about the trials, tribulations, triumphs—and tips to share—along the path to becoming a freelance writer.

I shouldn’t be blogging now. I shouldn’t be checking my iPhone. I shouldn’t be doing anything but nothing.

You see, I’m on vacation. On an island. I best not reveal where.

And when writers are on vacation, the idea is to be on vacation. As in, writers are not supposed to be writing.

Writers need a break. They need downtime. They need to recharge their solar batteries, or livers, or manna, or whatever organ or force that keeps them going.

But as I departed for my trip away, I realized that I’d left too much unfinished business unfinished. Like this blog post. And so I’ve spent more time than I’d prefer chained—OK, willfully chained—to my work.

Yes, the siren song of work—my daily habit of writing, emailing, scribbling—can be impossible to resist. Hence, why I brought my laptop with me to this island where, if the wind blows in the right direction and the lighthouses don’t flash too brightly and the schools of mackerel don’t swim in complex patters, all interfering with the 4G signal, I still have contact with the outside world.

And even a wifi-less laptop can be too much temptation. Wait! I say to myself. I could write one more scene for my perpetually unfinished novel! Dash off another op-ed that’s going to get rejected by the New York Times!

Point being, when the lure of writing hooks me and pulls me to some other place, I’m not present here, on this island, Which is an important lesson for writers, whose job is to be present, and accounted for, and accountable for, the world in which they live when they are on the job, busying themselves with recounting their intellectual and emotional experiences.

Plus, I do need to have a life devoid of writing, from time to time, to remind me of how much I miss writing. If I am always writing, I forget what my life is like without it.

So, I’m signing off now. I’m headed to the beach. I’m inching into the icy ocean torture-style. I’m cracking open another ‘Gansett tall boy. 

Until the next time, I'm off duty.


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About the Author

A GrubStreet instructor since 2005, Ethan Gilsdorf is a journalist, memoirist, essayist, critic, poet, teacher, performer and nerd. He is the author of the travel memoir investigation Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks: An Epic Quest for Reality Among Role Players, Online Gamers, and Other Dwellers of Imaginary Realms, named a Must-Read Book by the Massachusetts Book Awards. His essay "The Day My Mother Became a Stranger" was cited in the anthology Best American Essays 2016. His fiction, poetry and essays have appeared in Poetry, The Southern Review, The Quarterly, Exquisite Corpse, The North American Review, The Massachusetts Review, New York Quarterly and dozens of other literary magazines and in several anthologies, and he is the winner of the Hobblestock Peace Poetry Competition and the Esme Bradberry Contemporary Poets Prize. Gilsdorf got his start in journalism as a Paris-based travel writer and food and film critic for Time Out, Fodor's and the Washington Post. He has published hundreds of feature stories, essays, op-eds and reviews about the arts, pop, gaming and geek culture; and media and technology, and travel, in dozens of other publications worldwide including the New York Times, New York Times Book Review, Boston Globe, Boston Globe Magazine, Boston Magazine, Wired, Salon, WBUR's The Artery and Cognoscenti, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, and Art New England. A regular presenter, performer, and event moderator, he frequently appears on programs such as NPR, The Discovery Channel, PBS, CBC, BBC, and the Learning Channel, and also lectures at schools, universities, festivals, conventions, and conferences worldwide, including at this TEDx event, where he nerded out about D&D. Gilsdorf is co-founder of GrubStreet's Young Adult Writers Program (YAWP), and teaches creative writing at GrubStreet, where he served on the Board of Directors for 10 years. He teaches essay, memoir, journalism and other workshops, and is also the instructor of GrubStreet's 8-month Essay Incubator program and serves as coordinator of GrubStreet's Providence program. He’s also the lead instructor for the Westerly (RI) Memoir Project. He has led writing workshops for non-profit social justice organizations and also teaches writing and Dungeons & Dragons classes for younger students, in schools, libraries and community centers. He had also served on the Boston Book Festival Program Committee and as a member of the Boston Society of Film Critics. He received his BA from Hampshire College, and an MFA in Creative Writing from Louisiana State University. Follow Ethan’s adventures at ethangilsdorf.com or Twitter @ethanfreak, and read his posts on Grub's blog, GrubWrites.

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