There are times I long to be one of those who can flit from one point of focus to another with a kind of perpetually adjustable tunnel vision: now I am chopping the parsley and coriander for a kedgeree; now I am working on my novel-in-progress; now I am moving into the substance of a poem or arranging the contents of my sock drawer. This last is for illustration - I do not have a sock drawer, but if I were such a person then perhaps I would have one.
I know a writer who describes herself as having ADHD and believes that it is a blessing in her case because it gives her the ability to do many things. She brings tunnel-vision to whatever it is that she is working on and can achieve much more than most in twenty minutes. How useful this would be. But I am not one of those and require a substantial amound of dream-time, which you might think I have in abundance, but I separate good-quality dream-time from laid-up ill-time where thinking is scrambled and one is too much in the body, with its delinquent demands and malfunctions.
And where, in all this, does social networking fit in? Earlier in the year I joined Facebook and now it is Twitter. Last night I watched snippets from Old Grey Whistle Test on BBC4 and began tweeting about it! Why? Because it was fun, is the obvious answer. With the hash tag thing, I saw who else was tweeting, made a sparky connection with someone I don’t know and most likely won’t see again - we shared a moment that brought a smile to each of us, is all - is enough. But there is another impulse: I want to feel connected - whatever that might mean - to the world as it is now. I don’t think social networking is necessary for this but it is something that offers itself easily. I can’t physically zip about to poetry and other cultural events, but I can to some extent keep up with what is happening in a way that would not otherwise be possible. Yes, sometimes I very much love the internet. And sometimes I am very much aware that I have to be careful not to lose myself in it, remember that Notebook is my best friend, steady and true, always giving my proper reflection back to me, waiting and listening with a golden ear for the words that come into its pages.
“We are in it for the long haul,” says London smoke-friend. And the loneliness of the long-distance writer, especially when there is no end yet in sight, and no guarantee at all that persistence will bring what the world calls success, is something to be nourished and embraced.
I am still learning about the Mac. Had my first lesson at the Apple store yesterday with a courteous but slightly bored young geek and there was something about him slightly at odds with the cult-like upbeatness of the Apple environment. I have retained a fraction of what he taught me. We will no doubt cross paths again.