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Pulling the Plug

March 2nd, 2007

Here’s where I confess: I used to swear that I’d write everything long-hand. It made storytelling more visceral, my style and voice more tangible. If any concessions were to be made, they would involve–reluctantly, belligerently–an old Underwood typewriter and a bottle of white-out.

Ah, but “when I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man I did away with childish things.”

I decided one day to join the modern world. I plugged in. I entered the cyber-jungle, wary, but pumped full of excitement. After a few short forays, I gave over completely. The stories were still there, despite the “plugged-in” apparatus. Creativity was unleashed. I not only increased my daily word counts, I became a lurker, an online sniper. I showed up on blogs, forums, and e-chats, firing off a few shots before melting back into the cyber foliage. Gotta keep ‘em guessing, right?

Now, as part of this group (thanks to the gracious invitation of Mr. Nassise), I have another literary landscape to explore. Already, I’ve bellied my way beneath some thick diatribes, splashed through invigorating streams of thought, and found myself challenged by the fellow keyboard warriors on this blog. Each of us is aware, maybe painfully so, of the solitude of writing. Yet we’re never alone. We have others nearby, keeping an eye on the terrain, signaling encouragement, imagining new methods for foraging through the cultural underbrush.

Am I romanticizing the experience? I hope not.

When I agreed to be a part of Storytellers Unplugged, I found myself contemplating our name. “Unplugged” has obvious meaning in the musical realm, but is it an accurate description for fiction writers? Or merely a “sexy” one, as they like to say nowadays? Our collective online activity implies an acceptance of technology, as it pertains to our craft. Does this mean art has been compromised?

For the last month, I’ve stretched out with my ear to the ground and listened. I’ve picked up tremors of new things on the way. Through these blogs, I’ve heard ideas creeping closer. I detect creatures afoot, heroes on the rise.

We may be computer junkies and e-mail addicts, but we are–in all the right ways–unplugged. We are storytellers. And I’m honored to be a part.

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  1. Teresa
    March 3rd, 2007 at 03:25 | #1

    Greetings! Nice to meet you, Eric. Plugged or Unplugged, Storytellers is where I come to get ‘grounded’ within my embryonic aspirations as a writer. I look forward to your essays.
    I’ve already added your website to my growing list of authors to look out for in the book store.

  2. Sully
    March 3rd, 2007 at 12:03 | #2

    Glad you plugged into unplugged, Eric. What a distinctive voice you have. I tried stretching out with my ear to the ground, after reading your method, but the only thing that happened is I fell asleep and some old ladies walked over me. Wake me up if you see any Panzers rumbling my way.

    – Sully (Thomas Sullivan)

  3. David Niall Wilson
    March 3rd, 2007 at 12:05 | #3

    I think the Unplugged moniker is dead on.

    We used to listen to MTV Unplugged to find out what musicians sound like without all the bells and whistles…

    Here you can find out what authors think, and write like without page covers wrapped around their words, without editors and publishers and all the hype. Just authors…all the time (:

    DNW

  4. Sully
    March 3rd, 2007 at 13:59 | #4

    You know, Davey, I didn’t really think about the attraction of that. I mean, sure, it’s instantaneous — author’s unplugged — but when you spell out what candor is involved there, it really is compelling. Sort of comports with reality TV or “Insider” stuff. Music, Hollywood, politics, urban or suburban America, STORYTELLERS! We all want to see what really gives and goes on. I know, I know, everyone is saying, “Duh, Sully,” I’m slow to think about this. But probably others are too. Maybe that’s what we should put out there in the way of a pitch and a draw any chance we get…

    – Sully (Thomas Sullivan)

  5. Janet Berliner
    March 3rd, 2007 at 18:21 | #5

    Welcome. I, for one, would like to plug into
    a palm tree on a beautiful island. Outside of
    that, might as well be “Unplugged.” –Janet

  6. Elizabeth Massie
    March 3rd, 2007 at 18:39 | #6

    Welcome, Eric! Hope you enjoy the association. :) I’ve always imagined Storytellers Unplugged as a gathering of writers in a corner of a darkish, quiet-ish bar/restaurant after a long day at the computer, massaging the shape of the mouse out of our hands, rubbing the monitor glare from our eyes, and spouting off whatever comes to mind, unwinding…sharing.

    Beth

  7. John B. Rosenman
    March 3rd, 2007 at 23:37 | #7

    “Keyboard warriors.” Hot damn, I like the way you put things, Eric. That’s exactly what we are, and you aren’t romanticizing our glorious nature a bit. A nice first effort with a distinctive voice. I look forward to more.

    And Beth, I like the way you describe our gathering. From now on, I’m going to try to think of this place as a darkish, quiet-ish bar/restaurant. Maybe with a pool table in the back and the best, coldest draft beer in town.

    Unplugged, unbridled, untamed, uncensored, unchained . . . we’re all those things and more!

  8. wilsonwriter
    March 5th, 2007 at 02:03 | #8

    Thanks for the comments and warm welcome. I’ve just returned from an out-of-town trip, and this was a nice response to find.

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