Neuron Culture

A brief trip to the surface

Pardon the long silence. A couple of posts fell to tech issues. And I’d love to blame the hiatus on a vacation.

But mostly I’ve been off-blog and, for social media purposes, offline, because I’ve been immersed in writing a long feature. It’s a fun, meaty, juicy, really substantial story, one of two great assignments I’ve been working on this summer. And I’m greatly enjoying it, especially when it goes well. But as I’ve found before, the longer (and deeper) the feature, the more exclusively I seem to need to give it my attention. Thus the lack of blogging, and of tweets.

I don’t seem to mix short-burst with deep immersion very easily. I puzzle over why that is so. Partly it’s because I sometimes have difficulty diving into the pool, as it were, that I resist any distractions that might keep me from doing so, for I know how alluring I’ll find them. How pleasant and educational the web seems when you have 7,000 words waiting for you; how clever and fun the tweets; how intriguing the blog post you want to follow up on. And before you know it, a morning is gone.

I think sometimes the attraction of distraction is that when you (or I, anyway) enter the process of writing a long piece — the writing part, the really getting serious part — the very immersion that makes it so rewarding and entrancing — the need for total absorption, so all one’s concentration and working memory and side-thoughts and mind-wanderings are full of it — is also something you resist, for you know that there you will disappear. It’s as if you recognize you’re going to leave the rest of your life for a bit — and you resist doing so. Yet nothing feels better once you dive in.

So, well — that’s where I’ve been.

I’ll have read a few non-feature bits now and then, however — AI in war robots; an interesting couple of posts about PTSD at Tom Ricks’ blog — one by a soldier, one by Ricks about my SciAm piece on PTSD; health-care reform (or not); psych, pharma, other usual suspects — and will try to get a few posts up on those as I go along.

You can also follow (some of) what I’ve found worth reading by following my Google Reader shared items.