By JT Ellison
Tonight I will return home after ten days on the road. There is one more airport to conquer, one more flight to take, and then I can collapse. I’ve been in Colorado for the past few days, finishing up the FIELD OF GRAVES tours, seeing my family, hanging with some friends. It’s been a nice mini-break, though I’ve worked every day. And though there have been times of silence and contemplation, I can’t seem to truly relax.
Something is bothering me.
Well, many things are bothering me. I’m furious and heartbroken over Orlando. I’ve had to stay off social media for the most part because seeing my friends yell at each other upsets me. From the vagaries of presidential politics to the excess of cilantro in guacamole, everything is up for debate now, for judgement, for all-out shout-fests and insults. It makes me lose faith in humanity.
I went out on the road the day after the attack. Was I nervous? Yes. But the moment I stepped through the doors of my airport, something shifted in me. It shifted in everyone, I think. Everyone who stepped away from their screens and actually interacted with the world.
People were quieter than normal, but the smiles were genuine. The airport is always a frenetic, intense place (one I love, but I’m odd) and this was no different… and yet it was. The people who were looking out for our safety, TSA and the police, seemed more engaged. The travelers were more patient. There was kindness: offers to help with bags, pleasant small talk, compliments, no complaining or bitching.
For a moment, I thought, Wow, everyone’s on their best behavior. And then I realized, no, that’s not it.
We are standing together.
We are standing together.
We are standing together.
Any lingering nerves disappeared. I felt brave and strong.
I saw this togetherness all week long. I was in five airports. I spoke in five bookstores. I was in four hotels. And in each place, this vein of kindness, of courage and selflessness, was open and overflowing. I had so much fun being with readers and booksellers. These are my people, yes, but it was a stellar trip on all fronts.
Fact is, there was something special about being with people this week.
We all know people will say things online they would never say to someone’s face. Likewise, great kindnesses abound. But the perpetual outrage that I see online was blessedly missing from my life as I shook hands, hugged, signed books, accepted drinks and food, keys and pens and soaps.
Everyone was just a little gentler with their strangers.
I try very hard to conduct myself online in a manner that’s not confrontational, not alienating. I respect that we all have our own thoughts about pretty much everything, and realize there might be 5 people on this earth that actually agree on all these things. And I rarely, if ever, discuss hot button topics, because as a regular Joe, my opinion on these matters are irrelevant.
But as an author, I do have a responsibility. And I try to live up to that responsibility in a slightly different way than many. My tool of communication is my novels. My social commentary is through my novels. My job is to tell a story. My job is to make you think, make you wonder, make you happy and sad, and do it in all the right places. My job is to entertain you, to help you escape, to give you a respite from the barrage of reality we’re all faced with, day in and day out. To (hopefully) make you lose sleep because you’re engrossed. To educate, to illuminate, to enrage. My job is to give you something you’ve never seen before, something that will linger with you long after the cover is closed.
I do my best.
The past few months have been rough, I won’t lie. It’s been a long few months for us all out in the real world, and it’s been a long few months at home, too. Launching two books and doing two tours in the span of three months has taken a lot out of me. I’ve put a lot into these two babies. I haven’t been writing nearly enough. (Though don’t worry, I have been. Without the writing, the tours don’t happen, after all.) But even with the copious amounts of help I receive from Amazing Amy and my husband and my publishers, the juggling of turning an introvert into a temporary extrovert named Author Girl has me pretty much whipped.
And so. Call it a social experiment, call it a battery recharge, call it a finding of oneself, but I’m going to take a small sabbatical from the interwebs. It’s well overdue. Normally I leave for Lent, but because of the release timing for NO ONE KNOWS, I had to come back early, and trust me, the time off that I did have was consumed with PR. And the machine didn’t stop spinning from then on.
But it’s more than wanting a little break from the online world. I’ve been very affected by the interactions I’ve had IRL—in real life—over the past couple of weeks. It reminds me that I spend much too much time staring at my screens, and not enough time in the living world.
What will I be doing on my enforced break? Well, I found my yoga practice again on the road—thank heavens!—so there will be lots of yoga. There will be some golf. There will be hugging, and drinking, and eating with friends.
And most importantly, there will be hours upon hours of deep work.
Amazing Amy will be running things whilst I’m away. Should an emergency occur, I will be reachable. But I won’t be checking in. I encourage you to join me in this summer sabbatical. Because we all need to be alone sometimes.
Via: JT Ellison