The Weasel Has Landed

Good God. I found the weasel. And a fireplace poker to hit him with.

You know, from Weasel Of My Dreams. Thank you, all of you who offered dream interpretations on that one. They were tremendously helpful. And thanks to Sara Donati, from whose weblog I found Jennifer Crusie’s website. Where I found both the weasel and weapon for dealing with him. Read Taking Out the Garbage: How to Protect Your Work and Get Your Life, for some of the best advice I’ve found on the Internet in quite some time.

My weasel is news. Internet, radio, television. I have personal reasons for having kept so close a watch on the Iraq situation, and those may become more personal in the coming months, but the news is eating me. Digging into my work time, my ability to concentrate on fiction, gnawing away at time for other things.

For now at least, I’m going to have to go cold-turkey on news. It’s likely to not be pretty. And there’s going to be a point where I start keeping track again (later rather than sooner, please God), but for now, I am about to join the great mass of the uninformed. Because if I want to take care of my family, first I have to protect the work, something I have been failing miserably to do.

Those of you who hated the political parts of the weblog just got your prayers answered, for a while, anyway.

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About the author: Novelist, writing teacher, on a mission to reprint my out-of-print books and self-publish my new ones.

15 comments… add one
  • Jean Nov 7, 2003 @ 15:22

    Thanks to Elizabeth for posting her newsfasting techniques. Excellent suggestions–especially the walking the dog (built in answer to the "I don’t have time to exercise" excuse!) and taking concrete action requirements.

  • Jess Nov 7, 2003 @ 14:31

    Good luck, Holly. I sometimes feel like I need intravenous CNN to live, so I understand how scary it can be to quit cold turkey…
    and how watching these things you can’t affect in anyway can burn away at your heart like battery acid.
    Do you still meditate? Maybe upping your meditation time a little will help you cope.

    All the best,
    jess

  • Elizabeth Nov 7, 2003 @ 12:35

    Holly,
    Good luck with the news fast. (I love that Crusie article, too.) I tried news fasting and had a tough time of it at first. I made a lot of changes, and it got easier. I want to share what I did in the hopes that it would help someone else, as your writing suggestions have helped me. You may be a woman of much stronger will-power when it comes to available TVs; if so, cool. If not, I hope this list helps to make your change easier.

    Here’s what I did:
    1. I put the TV in the closet.
    2. I asked friends to lend me tapes (later) of my favorite shows or I watched the shows at my friends’ house.
    3. I cancelled all subsciptions that raised my bloodpressure. (Print or email). Or I put rules in my email program to stick them in a folder for later.
    4. I changed every radio button to the oldies station or the light rock station. Neither of them play any news in my part of the country. (I avoided the classical station at all costs.)
    5. I put my favorite music tapes and CDs near every music player in my house and car. That way I was never tempted to channel surf.
    6. I made a conscious effort to figure out how much time I’d just created and set it aside to walk my dog more. (This actually was probably the most beneficial.) The rest of the time went to family and writing and life stuff.
    7. I made a rule about when I could watch the news next, what I could watch, and for how long. For example, one hour a week, on Mondays, from 2-3, Washington Post website, headlines and news stories only. Setting up a time gave my nagging backbrain the info it needed to knock off asking "Later is when?" Setting a single source killed the length of time necessary to get the news. I knew that I wouldn’t be as well informed (since multiple news sources are necessary for that IMO), but I decided to compromise quality at least for a while. I strongly urge you to pick one source (whoever you think is best) and try it.
    8. I made a second, to me very important, rule. I could only watch/read/listen if I immediately took some concrete action afterwards. Worrying did not count. Pondering did not count. Talking to family about it didn’t count. Lighting candles and saying prayers for the safety of US soldiers did count. So did contacting my representatives about whatever issue I’d read about and telling my opinion. So did donating school supplies to Iraqi schools, US schools, and donating books to the US soldiers overseas. I bought a lot of pencils, but I also felt a lot better. I decided that knowing is useless if there’s no action to follow it. Acting made me a part of the changing world instead of an observer to forces bigger and stronger. (I did this for domestic issues, too.)
    9. I watched all of my entertainment at the movies or on my computer’s DVD player.
    10. I removed every last bookmark that was news related or had headlines that were news related (web pages like Apple, Netscape, political columnists and webloggers who write about politics a lot).
    11. I deleted the cache, so I couldn’t sort of kind of type in the addresses and have the rest magically appear.
    12. I set my web homepage to various benign sites. I was doing research on flowers for a while, so I had Jackson-Perkins (rose catalog) set up.
    13. I found and used the supermarket lines that went heavily to the women’s fashion magazines instead of the new weeklies (the Cosmo line instead of the Newsweek line).

    Hope the weasel is quickly smacked and that Talyn pages flow easily again.

    -E

  • Jim Woosley Nov 6, 2003 @ 22:14

    Ah, that’s a hard one.

    News from Iraq remains relevant on several points, including friends and family over there, possible relevance to the day job, and direct relevance to the novel that remains on my mind even if it always seems to drop to the bottom of the priority list.

    But yes, reassessing my priorities would not be a bad thing 🙂

  • Scott Nov 6, 2003 @ 15:52

    First, the "news" isn’t, really, news much anymore – it’s mostly what used to be considered opinion pieces. So that’s easy to ignore – opinions being like belly buttons: everyone has one and they tend to get smelly.

    Second, keep your chin up! As far as Iraq goes we’re just about at "critical mass" there – once conditions improve to a certain point (and killing Saddam Hussein would really, really help) they’ll start to snowball. A bunch of ill-educated thugs won’t be able to stop it.

    Lastly, to paraphrase the TV show "MASH" of all things: there are two rules in war – Rule One, young men (and women now) die, and Rule Two, there is nothing you can do to change rule number one. Worrying about things you can’t change is useless.

    The best thing that private citizens can do for the troops is to make sure that the amount of the $87 billion for Iraq slated for body armor gets spent on body armor. Flak jackets – which is what most troops have – only protects you from fragment injury, not projectiles. Oh, and send cards and letters and goodies through whatever means you can find. Paperback books, "baby wipes", hard candies are all good.

  • Jean Nov 6, 2003 @ 15:49

    Exactly what I was beginning to suspect! (Hence my playground comment this morning–glad you figured it out first!)

    I’ll check the other links you mentioned from home tonight.

  • Joel Nov 6, 2003 @ 15:18

    I’ve had friends making comments about my so-called lack of interest in the world (e.g., Iraq, politics, etc.) While part of it is true, there is so much information on a multitude of subjects that I HAVE to pick and choose what subjects to be involved. Right now that’s my family, friends, writing, working out, and a few more. The world? I’m keeping abreast of it but I’m really not fascinated by J.Lo and Ben Affleck’s latest breakup/get together.

  • Sandra Nov 6, 2003 @ 14:35

    Excellent article, and an issue I face myself. There is so much on the net to read and learn, but I need to turn it all off and concentrate on what I’m doing.

    Maybe I need to disconnect my network connection when I’m writing 😀

  • Ann Nov 6, 2003 @ 13:10

    I’ll add to the echo of "great article". Thanks for pointing it out to us, and I’m glad you found it helpful!

  • Holly Lisle Nov 6, 2003 @ 12:38

    I tried to read the Jennifer Crusie essays, but couldn’t actually get any of them to work.

    Make sure you don’t have pop-ups blocked, and don’t try to open them in a separate window or tab. I had the same problem initially. [g]

  • Jennifer Nov 6, 2003 @ 12:05

    Uh, I’m confused- I tried to read the Jennifer Crusie essays, but couldn’t actually get any of them to work. I kept being bounced back to the listings page. How did you get it to work?

  • Linda Sprinkle Nov 6, 2003 @ 10:39

    Thank you for posting the link. It’s something I’ve been working on my whole adult life, I think. I’ll be 50 on November 28, and all I can say is, "I’ve made progress."

    Good luck to you in your journey to keep your work and everything else in your life in their proper places.

    As for the news, I keep a general eye on it. I like to know what’s going on, but I get too upset if I delve into it in great detail because I can’t do anything about it. That frustrates me so much that I’m better off spending my energy on things I can do something about. I have a problem solver personality. I have to pick my problems carefully or I don’t get the important stuff done. 🙂

  • Holly Lisle Nov 6, 2003 @ 9:03

    Not checking the news is going to be an agony for me. I have friends and the family of friends in the military, including on the ground in Iraq, and what happens to them is hugely important to me. Trying to work my way through the problems we’re facing as a country right now and trying to figure out, at least at a personal level and to my own satisfaction, how do deal with them is also important to me. The news doesn’t depress me, but that’s because I have followed current events through a number of media and closely enough that I knew the news in Iraq was mostly good, and in what ways it was bad — network television paints a completely different and shamefully false picture, but if you’re willing to put in the time and dig for it, you can negate the ABC/CBS/NBC bullshit line.

    And it’s not just Iraq and the war. It’s everything going on in the world right now, because everything feeds in — creates a gestalt without which you have a distorted picture of anything.

    Discussing the things I have discovered and my insights on them here helps me work out where I stand on issues and events, and why — and that is important to me.

    But I’m having a hell of a time finding the emotional resources to deal with the wayward book, and other things going on in my life unmentioned here, and something has to give. And current events is not something that I can do halfway. I know me. [beating head on floor].

    I’m likely to be a really cranky person for a few weeks while I adjust.

  • Loyd Nov 6, 2003 @ 8:28

    Thanks for steering me to an *excellent* article. As far as news goes, I don’t listen because the media usually picks out the bad in an obvious way. I get depressed enough without having to deal with slanted news.

  • Alex Nov 6, 2003 @ 6:53

    News concerning Iraq tends to depress me nowadays, so I almost never watch it. I get the news second hand from my dad (whose political viewpoint I suspect you would NOT like), but mostly I just turn off the TV when the news comes on. I think it’s definitely the right thing to do if you’re behind on work.

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