Way back in 2009, soon after another blogger on violinist.com invited me to join Facebook, and I joined, I used to play Farmville. Since I no longer do so, I feel like I can admit it now, like I’m in recovery. Other people apparently have the same idea: “still exist” is one of the top google autocompletes for “Does Farmville . . .”
Even then, I knew the game was taking time and energy from more important things, things like practicing my instrument, socializing, even work. That’s why I am semi-serious when I characterize it as an addiction: it wasn’t trivial to stop playing Farmville, even when it was demonstrably interfering with my life. I was finally able to stop when I analyzed what I was getting (or thought I was getting) out of the game: spatial and temporal organization, order, and cleanliness.
I realized with a shock that my farm was prettier, better organized, and more peaceful and relaxing to be in than my real-life house. My farm had become my happy place, my retreat from everyday anxiety. I also realized that I had made it this way, intentionally or not.
I was a little embarrassed by this realization, but it also gave me hope. My farm was actually pretty nice, and I had made it that way. If I could do that with a cheesy Farmville farm, I could also do it in a real house. I deleted the app and started to work on organizing my real house. It was a work in progress, until we moved this summer, but I did feel more connected to our old house once I started focusing and working on it rather than the virtual version. It had become such a part of me, I was sad to leave it.
I’ve had a similar virtual/reality tension between writing and music for the past 9 years. Most of the time, they’ve been correlated: more blogging, more practicing. The same traits that keep me blogging–curiosity, creativity, analysis, enjoyment, being a glutton for punishment (just kidding)–also keep me practicing.
But here in this new house, this new life, this new orchestra, they are starting to de-couple. Why? Because I’m trying to write more, and differently. When I started my violin blog it was pretty stream-of-consciousness. I just wrote down whatever was in my mind, without much planning or even much editing. I’d notice other people with writing schedules and I’d think, “eh, too much work. I’ll just write when I feel like it.”
Then I wrote a novel during NaNoWriMo a few years ago. Now I feel like I’m almost there, almost ready to declare it finished and send it to an editor, maybe try to publish it. But I’m not getting myself over that hump. I also felt like I wanted to blog about more than violin, so I started this blog here on Word Press. All of the sudden I feel like I have too many writing commitments.
Practicing the violin, too, is getting more complicated. My new orchestra is at a slightly higher level, musically, than my former orchestra. I mean no disrespect to my former orchestra, and I picked my current orchestra in large part due to perceived similarities in concert cycle and repertoire to that group. Maybe it’s just that it’s unfamiliar, I’m not sure. All I know is that everything seems to be moving quickly and I don’t want to be left behind. But every day the clock moves too fast and I want to pull it backwards. I still haven’t practiced yet today, for example.
I want to get back to that sweet spot, that Farmville inspiration, where I can take the creativity nurtured in a virtual medium and carry it into real life.