Sarah Palin Is Ruining My Writing Career

It’s true. I can’t get anything done while there are more Sarah Pain videos out there for me to laugh at. It used to be that my first stops on the internet were literary: maybe Papercuts, followed by The Guardian books section, followed by, say, The New York Review Of Books. Now it’s straight to Wonkette and the HuffPo.

It seems I am not alone. This week, someone writing under the pseudonym “Stumped” sends this complaint to Cary Tennis, Salon’s advice guru and creative coach:

I am taking a creative nonfiction writing course, and I’m supposed to be working on a piece about what I ate for breakfast. The problem is, every time I sit down at the computer to work, I start compulsively reading the election coverage online, sometimes spending two hours or more on variations on the same five articles. I am ashamed of my lack of self-control in this area.

I hear that. I’d find it tricky to write about what I had for breakfast too (two slices of multigrain toast with hard boiled egg, in case you were wondering). More to the point, I am ashamed by my lack of self-control in the internet area also. I have watched that clip of Palin’s interview with Katie Couric, the one which shows her stammering about the economy, fifty sixmany times. That should be enough. Alas, it is not.

“Stumped” has other problems too, though, including what sounds like an over achievement complex combined with some self esteem issues, and Cary’s full response is all over the place, accordingly, while never failing to be encouraging and supportive, which is one of the things I like about him.

My one critique is that he kind of skips over the essential point — a lesson that is essential for all writers. Here it is:


There. I said it. Cutting myself off, physically, is necessary for me, I know that much. Every week, the Times Papercuts blog runs “Stray Questions” in which they ask the the same three things to a random assortment of writers. One of the questions is: How much time — if any — do you spend on the Web? Is it a blessing or a distraction?

Asking if the internet is a blessing or a distraction is like asking: Food — delicious or fat-inducing? It’s both, stupid. Delicious if you eat the right things, in the right quantities. A potential health risk if you eat too much, too often. But necessary, either way.

So with online video of Sarah Palin, it seems.

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5 Responses to Sarah Palin Is Ruining My Writing Career

  1. Nancy Coyne says:

    I’m your mother-in-law’s friend, Nancy, and although we’ve never met, she speaks of you so often and so favorably that I feel like a) I know you and b) I love you. So she just sent me your website and this is MY VERY FIRST comment on anybody’s blog: if you think you spend a lot of time on Sarah Palin on the internet, think about the poor luddites like me who, at 62, are new to technology. Youtube is no easy hop, skip and click for me. I invariably crash something and have to call tech support (which is why I can only go on the internet at work) which is OK since I own the company. But it’s still a chore…just one I can’t seem to stop. I can’t even convince myself that I should, in asmuch as I rationalize that I’m perfecting my computer skills. I confess however that I give equal time to Tina Fey as to Sarah herself, on the theory that they’re both just actresses and Tina is better. Anyway, if I were one of my employees I’d be furious about the time I’m spending with the two Sarahs (and now writing to strangers about them). But I would love to meet you someday. I’ll check back with you after the Great Debate!

  2. nancyrawlinson says:

    Hi Nancy — thanks for stopping by! I’ve heard many wonderful things about you too and look forward to meeting in person one of these days.

    I’m honored to be the recipient of your first blog comment, and I agree, Tina-as-Sarah is a much better actress, but there’s a kind of nails-across-a-blackboard quality you can only get from the real thing. Guess I’m a sucker for punishment.

  3. [...] I have watched the clip of Palin ’s interview with Katie Couric, the one which shows her stammering about the economy, fifty sixmany times. That should be enough. Alas, it is not. “Stumped” has other issues too, though, including what …[Continue Reading] [...]

  4. amanda (s.i.l) says:

    I have probably spent at least 12 hours with Palin related content just this week, and it’s only Tuesday. I am sick. I am afflicted. I am consuming as fast as the media is being produced and am totally without self-control. I have a terribly important research paper due on Friday and I haven’t started writing it, mostly because I can be found huddling in the dark, on youtube, furiously forwarding links while I watch her every move and gaffe. The ultimate irony is that the subject of my paper is: viral media produced in response to Sarah Palin. Oh the horror.

  5. nancyrawlinson says:

    Amanda, it sounds like you have Palinitis worse than me. You got it bad. Maybe we need to start a whole new area of study here. You could be a Paliantologist. No, wait, that already exists, kinda, and as we all know, Sarah digs that area of study, big time.

    There is no escape. All routes lead back to Palin. We are doomed.

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