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My current feelings about the internet

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I find so often I sit down at my computer to do one thing, and it’s like a scary hand from a horror movie reaches out and grabs me by the hair. I am stuck. I am unhappy. But I am stuck.

I find so often that I am interacting with everyone like a moony toddler from a cartoon, holding out my heart, asking, “Want some?” There is a face I make that goes with this, I don’t mean to do it, but my 15-year-old says, “you’re making that face again.” The face says, “I am sad if you don’t pay attention to me.”

I’m working to quit this face. I’m working to quit the feeling behind it, too.

In the video I say there are 50,000 people on the internet. There are many more than that, I know. It’s just that that’s the biggest number of people I can even begin to comprehend.

All I can do is notice how I feel about things. When I do a lot online, I feel jangled. When I get writing done, I feel calm and powerful. The second one — I like that one better.

Distraction is a slippery slope. For me, the mistake often lies with doing something internet-related first thing (“oh, I need to order socks for Clarence, I'll do that first to get it out of the way”). I buy the socks and then I’m pulled in. But if I do something else as my first official task of the day, write or plan or read, then that too is a slippery slope. I remember the joy of that all day, and keep going back to it.

I don’t have an answer. Chris Moody wrote in The Atlantic about disconnecting his entire house from the internet. I don’t know if I need to do anything that drastic. The answer for me is to keep noticing the feelings. And then think, “Do I want to keep doing this thing?” Often it’s — “I’m feeling jangly and irritated right now, and I can get away from this.”

Reading a book is always productive, even if I’m not producing anything.

Maybe we need to bring back in-person round table discussion groups. I have enough people in my house that I can have witty banter with them, although sometimes I make The Face by mistake and that is not witty nor banter.

I really enjoyed Wellness by Nathan Hill, and there is an extended section in that book (which is a novel) about the various internet algorithms and how they manipulate us and it made all of this [gestures generally about] even ickier.

This is all complicated and hard. I just want to say — if you don’t read this, that’s fine. If you can walk swiftly away from the internet, do that. If you can stay on and be calm, awesome.

I have this thought that there are robots who are shoving more and more onto the internet, so that the humans get overwhelmed and go live in a cabin and then the robots can take over. I also think the robots don’t realize we can defeat them by spraying them with a hose or pouring gallons of milk on their heads. That would do it, right? I don’t know if this is an actual scenario I believe, or if I’m coming up with a novel right now.

All I know is, not that long ago, I dreamed of these two characters. They were no one I knew, but I knew they belonged in a book. I wrote it up, 24,000 words, the most words I’d ever written on anything. The book was a mess and not done, but it’s what made me think I could do this for real. It was 2010, maybe. Not that long ago, but before I had a phone in my pocket. Back when I might go days without turning my computer on. How did my brain change so fast? Now I’m online for so many of my waking hours. And how do I change it back, so I dream of books again?

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The Map to Inspiration is an online class, yes, but it’s all about how to get offline if that’s what you want. The online part is less than half an hour each week, and then you can be offline the rest of the time. It’s all about figuring out exactly what it is you want to do, and what’s blocking you from getting it done. It starts January 16, 2024. More info here.

Thoughts and Links

  • I bought a wool sweater from Goodwill for $3. I mostly got it because I was cold at the time. Like, in the store, I was cold. It’s a very warm sweater, but was a men’s size XL crewneck, and frankly was pretty unflattering. Like a giant cozy blanket, but also, dumpy. I cardiganized it as per the instructions in Mend! — sliced it up the front, sewed on bias binding and snaps, and now it’s cooler. Who knew? It felt so rebellious to cut a sweater clear up the middle.

  • I made the triple ginger chocolate cookies, and made the candied ginger from Alton Brown’s recipe, and I think the candied ginger alone is my favorite sweet I’ve made all season. I saved the ginger water from boiling the ginger and have been making ginger lime mocktails with it. The cookies were amazing but are definitely ones you need to announce. They look like chocolate cookies but are molasses. You need to warn people.

  • If you ever want a critique from me, I do them through the Manuscript Academy.

  • This is your reminder that the full movie of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever is available on YouTube, and it’s perfect.


Books I read recently and loved

Disclosure: book links in this newsletter are affiliate links to, a site which supports independent bookshops.
  • I’m in love with The Bees of Notre Dame by Meghan P. Browne and illustrated by

    . I love a book that is a history and a story and a dreamy gorgeous piece of art.

  • The Tree and the River by Aaron Becker is so fascinating and a little tiny bit distressing — it made me feel like we’re all just tiny parts of a larger landscape. I also keep thinking about how it compares to (adult novel) North Woods. Both are about one place and how it changes over time via the people who live there.

  • I love serious deep dives into what makes things funny, which is why I ate Comedy Book by Jesse David Fox right up.

  • It’s the second year in a row that Just Like Magic by Sarah Hogle has put me in a jolly holiday mood. I recommend it if you like your holiday rom coms with a side of complete ridiculousness.

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Do the Work
Pep talks about writing and creativity, mostly while I'm walking the dog.
Julie Falatko