The Good Ol’ Days of Writing: the Pre-Social Media Days
Remember when all you dreamed of was becoming a writer? Recall grad school? Walking the hallowed halls hungry and broke but happy, dreaming of becoming the next Poe, Dickinson, or Hunter Thompson (in my case). Then you got your first day job. You never saw daylight (downsizing, rightsizing, leftsizing, and everyone wanted a piece of you, dear young sweetmeat that you were). You went home from that place and, at two in the freakin’ morning you banged out the greatest story on your PC Junior. I bet you made up for the loss of sleep next day by taking a nap or two in the company parking lot. Yeah, yeah, sure. I’m wrong. But back to your story. You typed it the night before and tossed it into the file cabinet, forgot all about it until a few years/decades later.
Ah, those were the days, when all we writers had to think about was . . . writing. And, of course, finding a way to get our work out of the file cabinet and into Mr. Doubleday’s office. Do you long for the days when your greatest fear was going back to a cockroach ridden apartment and finding the power company had turned off your electricity? It was cold showers for me, baby, I can tell you.
We still have our day jobs, but now we have families, responsibilities. Yet we continue writing. What an incredible thing to pull that old story, typed on PC Junior or on an IBM Selectric (I typed mine on a manual typewriter), and sit in the closet or basement reading what we wrote. It never made it into Mr. Doubleday’s hands, or one of his editors’. But if you’re like I am, dusting off that old story still gets you there.
Speaking of getting you there, you’ve also grown into your work as a writer with the advent of Web 2.0 and social media. You awakened and were in bed with millions of others on Facebook, Twitter, and all the other places and spaces where we writers must congregate, network, build platforms, social media networks, blog.
Many of my friends who are writers often say it’s overwhelming. It makes us crazy. But as I told a friend recently, we can do this. We can manage our lives, master our platforms and social media, and still crank out novels and get published. What? Are you freakin’ crazy?
Writing’s Not about You
I’m diligent, but I have a delicious flaw: I gave myself permission to delve into the Web 2.0 universe and grow with it, which drove me crazy as a writer. Time suck, that’s what social media is, or at least that’s how I felt for a long time. I’ve had blogs die, and I’ve crashed and burned in the Web 2.0 ether more times that I can count. At times, I’ve been so frustrated I thought I might just be crazy, and possibly, I was. I wanted to stop writing. But I kept going. And the reason I did was because I used social media to adjust my point of view. Prior to Facebook and Twitter, my work was all about me. I was the next Hunter Thompson, I could stow a story in my file cabinet for decades and dream of having it published–one day. But that was an insular world I lived in, mostly inside my own head. And that’s just not the way things work now. How fortunate I am that, through my online social networking I’ve met the greatests individuals who inspire me to write better, and even, to take that next step and achieve my dream of at last becoming published. I’ve finally realized: writing’s not about me. Never was.
So Who’s Writing in the Web 2.0 Universe About?
One inspiring friend who I met in an author platform building class (yep, it was online) is Rich Amoii. Rich and I talked via email after class, and I shared with him my dream of writing a romantic comedy (I write romantic suspense, but one of the issues I resolved in the class was genre hopping). Rich said, “Go on, write that story.” And, Rich, I have. Did I say I’d resolved my issue of genre hopping?
It’s my best work to date. One encouraging sentence from an online writer friend, and I’ve written the best work I could have imagined, a romantic comedy called Jump The Line. That’s what going crazy and accepting my place within the Web 2.0 world did for me. So who’s it about, our writing? Really, it’s not about me, not about you. It’s about others, like Rich, who we meet and have discourse with. It’s about readers and markets and places we never dreamed we’d be writing and working in back in the day. There’s no returning to that world, where my dreams were mostly in my head and my work got tossed into a file cabinet. I wouldn’t want to, either. So I tell my friends, Go on. Go crazy. Get out there and play and have fun in the Web 2.0 galaxy. Have your breakdown. Then get busy writing.