What's Important 1: Twitter Tortures Me

Note: A few years ago I wrote a series of pieces on "What's Important." They got a decent amount of traffic on my old blog, so I've decided to re-run them on my new site.

The main appeal of Twitter, for me, is to get a glimpse into the life I wish I was leading.

The vast majority of the people I follow on Twitter are storytellers of some type, be they writers or artists, and I would say that the vast majority of them do so for a living, or at least manage to get by doing little else.  And those people often Tweet about what they're doing at any given moment, and it doesn't usually involve sitting in a cubicle, putting together Excel sheets of information they have no real interest in.

Over the course of any given day (and night), most of these creators will drop comments about what they're currently working, what their process is like, if they're going to make their deadline, when the next meeting is, etc.  It's like getting a glimpse into heaven.

Of course it's not real, I know.  The beauty of social media is that we can present only the aspects of ourselves we choose to allow the world to see, and with Twitter that's particularly myopic.  It's a 140 character window.

Most of the time I use these glimpses as motivation.  That's the life I want, I'd say.  That should be me, Tweeting about it's 9 AM and I'm sitting down to answer publishing related e-mails while drinking my coffee.  I should be editing and proofing and researching throughout the day and cranking out new pages through the night.  I should be part of a mutual admiration society with writers whose work I enjoy.

Lately, it's been equals part motivating and depressing.  My life seems to be settling into a mold and that mold seems inflexible.

Before I go any further, you should go read this brilliant piece by David Ferguson over on the Onion.  It was published on Wednesday, about a week after I'd started putting this blog post together, and it nails exactly where my mind is at these days.


One of the things you kind of learn as you get older is that there are fewer and fewer of us out there.  By "us," I'm referring to the people in Ferguson's piece, people who have figured out what it is they love to do and who are only able to do the aforementioned thing at night and on the weekends.  That's a hard row to hoe, and over time enough distractions pop up to make giving up that life not just easy, but preferable.

There's absolutely nothing wrong with that, either.  But it does suggest a certain extremism in place when it comes to "doing what you love."  At a certain point, it becomes all or nothing.  It's a simple matter of time.  There are only so many hours in the day, and, whether we like it or not, we only have so much energy.  What we have to do will almost always trump what we want to do because what we have to do keeps us alive.

That's where I'm at these days.  I'm getting older and my life is getting fuller, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.  But it's making me anxious about doing the thing that I love.

Eleven years ago, I quit being in bands.  Even back then, I realized that I didn't have time to play guitar in a rock n' roll band and give my writing the attention it deserved -- at least not while working a full time job.  I referred to as crossing a river, and I could only take so many things will me to the other side, and the Marshall half stack just wasn't going to fit on my boat.

I doubt I'll ever stop writing, I just worry about the day when I get two hours once a week to do it, or when I have to choose between spending time with my wife and sitting at my computer.

As unrealistic as it is, I want that Twitter life, and until I have it, it will always torture me.