What They Don’t Tell You About in Writing School

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   Launch the browser, enter a search, and then it begins. Social media means Twitter, Facebook, blogs, Squidoo, LinkedIn, and myriad others. As if it wasn’t difficult enough to keep all the sites in some kind of meaningful order in one’s mind, what they do, the password to get on the site, there’s also etiquette. Far be it from me to suggest that ethical use of anything might be warranted, and for a few, needed, so jumping on a social networking site isn’t as easy as one would believe. As a regular reader, one follows links, adds friends and contacts, Retweets, reads and comments on what others have written, and all this time and effort is in the category of creating an online platform BEFORE you even mention that you’ve written a book (or for some of us, several books). It is considered in poor taste to push or mention that you have a book or a web site. It’s all about creating relationships. In 140 characters or less. Without ever meeting them face to face. Be interesting, fun, offer good ideas. Engage in social networking at least several times a day. If this recipe is followed, you, as the author, might generate mild interest in your material after you’ve been online, creating a presence for, I’m guessing, several months? You see, I’ve been at this since August. Do you know how many sales I’ve made online? Zero. Do you know how many Retweets I’ve had/done, strangers I follow on Twitter or friended on Facebook? None. Why? I’m just one in millions of users, hoping that my material lands in front of someone bored enough, or perhaps savvy enough, to investigate further the words I have to say, or of all things (gasp!) order a book from my web site. 

   Sarcasm has its place, perhaps not in the classroom, but certainly here, where I’m divulging what creative people must do in this day and age of massive amounts of information that move at the speed of light if they are to be recognized for their work. We’ve all seen it. Humans, moving through a restaurant, airport, bus terminal, store, or roadway, with their handheld device either at their ear or their nose. Sending and receiving text messages (I’ve received, never sent), surfing the web, Tweeting and Retweeting, posting (they hope) thought-provoking sentences on their multitude of pages, taking pictures, watching YouTube, and occasionally actually carrying on a verbal conversation with another human. All the while, missing the passing landscape which includes nature and their fellow beings.  I admit, that not only do I not know how to text a message, but I don’t have a camera or Internet access on my phone! I’m also one of those people who joke about how we ever did anything without cell phones when we were to meet someone. How did we reach them to get directions or inform them we would be late? And yet we all managed quite nicely. That was also the day of cocktail parties where no outfit for the evening was complete without a fresh stack of business cards. You could predict how a conversation would go once you knew the occupation of the person in front of you balancing two meatballs and three carrot sticks on a small paper plate and a scotch on the rocks in their other hand. If they sold insurance, they were sure to offer you a great deal. If you are a doctor, you were expected to give free medical advice. Teaching? It was always, “Well, you don’t get paid near enough for all that you do for our country’s future.” Now it is all completed digitally. Save the trees, but are we any better off?

   I was sharing this realization recently. What it comes down to is time and energy. We take time and make time to create. Sometimes it depletes our energy and other times it rejuvenates us. Those of you who have been reading regularly know that I advocate sharing creative work with the world, and critics be damned. And since I’ve attempted in various ways to squeeze more than twenty-four hours out of a day, I’ve recognized that a choice must be made. Devote the requisite time and energy to social media, or to creating. Unless you are fortunate enough to earn a living at what you bring forth from your creative attic or cellar, then you’re like me, and your creating occurs on the side of your other full time obligations. After giving a hundred percent to what covers the bills (usually) there isn’t much time, or sometimes even energy, left over for both pursuits of creating and networking. (That is perhaps one of the greatest advantages of Saturday evening cocktail parties.)

   But there is a middle of the road, or at least I have chosen to drive on the median. I continue to squeeze, rearrange, and even plan time with my spiral and pen to get out story #5. I also jump online each day to post something on my Facebook pages (a personal one, plus one for writing, teaching and yoga; the last two are new), I Tweet if I feel I can concisely express an emotion in 140 characters or less, and since August, I’ve been consistent in updating this blog every Sunday. I haven’t scoured the web to find other blogs that I can read regularly and comment (but not mention or push my web site or books, at least until I ‘get to know’ the blogger). Deciding that what I do, I will do well and with intention, these three social media sites are what I’ve chosen to keep up with. Some day, maybe during the summer, I can post more than once a day, or hangout online and see if anyone else is there and perhaps do a mini, written conversation, or comment on someone’s post with something that is “fun and informative”.

   As always, I encourage you with my words and my vibe to go forth and create! Dance, paint, draw, write, compose, and cook with love and abandon and intention. And if, at the end of your ‘work’ session there’s a little energy and time that remains, then Tweet and post about your work, your love, your creations. Will it make you famous? Perhaps. Garner you millions of adoring fans? If that is your wish, then I wish along with you. Regardless, may you always gaze at the beauty around you, engage in meaningful face to face communication, and have a pocketful of business cards. With my social networking done for the day, I’m off to play with Chapter 25, and see what happens to Shawn when he discusses with Ethan the evidence of the murder. Want to read a little something until my fourth book, Of Prophesies and Promises is in print? My old web site is still operational, for now . . .  www.myjoyenterprises.com

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