This week I turned off the Gmail notification on my phone. The only sound it will be making now is when someone calls or texts me. The rest of the time, my phone will be silent.
My Gmail account is the one I use for my writing life. When I was querying my novel, it was where I would hear back from agents. It’s where the rejections for the stories I sent out go, as well as the occasional acceptance. It’s where comments from this blog show up. It is the account I use to correspond with the friends I’ve met through writing. It is the portal through which the wider literary world enters mine.
The sweet little ding my phone made each time I got a new message to this account wasn’t always good news. Frequently, it was dinging for rejections. But even a rejection felt like a kind of progress, moving forward through one’s life as a writer. That story is not going to be published there. Time to check off the box and move on to the next magazine or journal.
There was hope with every ding. Maybe they’d be saying no, but there was always the possibility for a moment that they’d be saying yes. It was hard, each time the phone dinged, not to pick it up at once. There was a lot of emotional baggage in that one little noise. I have to confess that I miss it since I’ve turned it off.
Turning off that notification is part of the little break I’m taking from writing right now. I loved the ding. I miss the ding. But I’m not sure if it’s a good thing for the writing, which has to be about more than someone out there saying yes or no. The writing has to be about more than that ding.
So, for now, my phone is mostly silent. And in the absence of that ding, I’m listening for what else there is to hear.