Or, how to silence the FOMO and just write.
Writing as a vocation or avocation, while also living a life worth writing about, is a delicate balance for anyone. For an extrovert with raging FOMO, writing can be an elusive pleasure. It is also a pleasure that must sometimes be fought for. And the fight is with ourselves.
When we write at home, extroverts can focus and create. Unless we know we are missing out on something. Then we get antsy and our minds wander to where the fun must be happening. And off we go.
When we write in public, as I am doing at this moment, we can be easily distracted. I combat this by changing my writing “homes” on a regular basis. I write somewhere until I get known or make friends there, and then I move on to somewhere new. Currently I am writing at OPA cafe, a greek coffee and wine bar offering specialty greek nibbles, on S. Lamar in Austin. No one here knows me yet. Star Trek is playing silently on the T.V. in a corner. Soft, old school jazz plays softly in the background. I have thirty minutes of free WiFi, which encourages focussed writing. And I have an excellent glass of petite syrah for the Happy Hour price of $5.75. Life is good.
Most of my friends are busy doing other things farther away. I deliberately did not go to either of my favorite Happy Hours at two of my favorite restaurants, where I would be “forced” to talk with the regulars, and coaxed to hang out longer to listen to music in Guero’s Oak Garden. I feel relatively certain there is nothing I am missing out on. There isn’t, is there? Writing it is.
However, I have sent texts with pics of me at OPA, and a video of the place, announcing to friends that I have found a new writing home away from home. I have answered a phone call from one of said friends, and one from a new client. I texted the boyfriend of the friend whose call I answered, to let him know I would join him and Terrence at Jazz in the Park on Sunday. For extroverts, having a reward of activity and fun people at the end of a project or a long week, is imperative. We can then compartmentalize our need for “lights, camera, action” and interaction with others. And mostly, that works.
Unless… you happen to be in New Orleans for a week. I dutifully lugged my Mac laptop onto the United Air Lines flight, even though I was technically limited to one carry on. At the hotel, I conscientiously plugged it into the cool, collapsible power station built into the desk in the room. I was traveling with my sister who was attending a conference there. I had beau coup time to explore the city, to see the rebirth from Hurricane Katrina, and to write. I had last been there six months before Katrina, and was hoping it hadn’t been Disneyfied in the restoration process. It hasn’t.
If you have FOMO anywhere else, or even if you don’t, New Orleans will bring it out. I had told my friend Terrence that I planned to stick to my low carb diet there. He laughed. I actually believed I would. I also believed that I would write there. A local I met at Bar Vin, Misty, took me to Antoine’s, and introduced me to all the staff, telling them I would be back the next day to write. I felt like a celebrity.
Did I stick to a low carb diet, you ask? Did I carry my laptop the ten blocks to Antoine’s to write? Have you even been to New Orleans? The answer to both questions is no.
Writing, by necessity, is a solitary act. New Orleans lazy Mississippi River, the bright sun, the bird calls, and the languid humidity of a southern town provoke the desire to write. Tennessee Williams and Anne Rice were inspired by it’s gothic architechture and steamy climate. But they lived there. They could walk out the door anytime and absorb the street music, weave through the crowds in the French Quarter, and dine on food unmatched anywhere in the world. Visitors, like my sister and me, have limited time to drink it all in. And drink you do in New Orleans.
And so, no writing got done during those five days. However, there was no FOMO either, because we had all the fun there was to be had.
Back home, I am diligently writing. When the distractions of writing in public become too great I retire to my home. When the walls of my home begin to close in, I go to my most recent writing home away from home. It’s likely extroverts, like me, write less than introverts, who treasure time alone. On the other hand, I never run out of experiences to write about.