Brain sucking internet sucks brain

I came down to the mezzanine level of the hotel – about the only place I can get a semi-reliable wi-fi signal – with a plan to absorb some of the internet (or at least deal with some emails and try to clear some of the 1000+ unread Google Reader items) and I’ve managed somehow to find myself listening to the original Last Chance to See radio show about the Amazonian Manatee (Stephen Fry and Mark Carwadine are in the process of filming a twenty-years-on TV series for the BBC, which should be pretty interesting). This is not Getting Things Done. This is distinctly Not Writing.

I went to the Neil Gaiman / ORG event last night with a number of Canonical colleagues. It was a very interesting talk, especially considered Neil’s jet-laggedness, and the Q-and-A session afterwards was excellent. Two things that Neil said resonated particularly with me. Quoting Douglas Adams, he said:

"Books are sharks. There were sharks before dinosaurs and there are sharks now. There is nothing in the world better at being a shark than a shark is – and there is nothing in the world better at being a book than a book is. They’re portable, they’re light, they’re mostly solar-powered… Books aren’t going to go away."

And responding to a questioner, who asked whether giving things away was a good way for journeyman writers to get their material out to the world (the question I had planned to ask, incidentally, but I got question-gazumped, not that I begrudge the gazumper), he said (I paraphrase):

Yes. Absolutely… When I started writing there were a very few ways to get things to the people who matter, and none of them really wanted to read what you had. Now there are many, many ways to get your work to the people who matter, and they all want to take on new authors (well, enough new authors). Of course, there are a lot more people making their writing publicly available these days, so now you have to be very, very good indeed.

And I found myself wondering why I’ve not put more – indeed, any, come to think of it – of my work online.

There’s an immediacy about photography that writing just can’t have, almost by definition. Writing is to photography what sculpture is to… err… photography (I can’t think of another visual art that offers photography’s instantaneousness – answers on a postcard please). I can shoot something, edit it briefly (a quick retouch in the Gimp or an adjustment of levels in Picasa) and have it up on the web within minutes of having shot it. If I write something it can take days, even for the shortest of stories, for me even to get to the point where I want someone else to take a look at it (I think I’ve written before about my not-being-able-to-show-people-stories problem so I’ll not go on about it here). Getting it up there on the web is an entirely different animal.

But for some reason, call it a kick in the pants from a best selling author and philosophising with friends down the pub or whatever else you may want to call it, I find myself finally wanting to put work up online.

Halloween’s coming. I’ve been promising myself a Halloween story for years (I did write one before, but it never felt quite right; maybe it’s worth digging out the manuscript for that, too).

Anyway, the point was that I was supposed to be writing that now. Instead I’m listening to Douglas Adams, Mark Carwadine and an unhappy, bedraggled, three-toed sloth. Still, as displacement activities go, could be worse I suppose.