Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Has it really come to this? Thoughts on being a writer in the Internet age.

I’ve been having a bit of writer’s block lately. Well, not exactly writer’s block. Just blogger’s block, I guess. I’ve written a poem, but it’s nothing I want to share yet. I’ve started and not finished a whole slew of posts.
I'm basically "finished" with my current Novel-in-Progress and it's been tough to move on, or branch out.
It’s a delicate balance for a writer today. I think it’s safe to say that most writers are relatively private people. That may have worked out just fine in Harper Lee’s day. She could be reclusive and still experience the success of her work. Today, though, I’m told I need to have an Internet presence. I can’t sit at home and write in my journal unless I publish it for the whole world to see and repeatedly tweet that post to millions of followers. (Just in case you wondered, I don’t have millions of followers—but you could see that by clicking my Twitter link.) I need a platform. I need to market myself. So I am caught in this in-between place because I’m really a novelist and a story-writer, sometimes poet, yet I’m living in an age when we’re expected to be online almost 24 hours a day. If you’ve read my blog much, you know that I am against that in theory. Still, I do it. I leave Facebook open most of the time now because I haven’t had a chance to change my email settings to make sure I don’t miss a message or a wall post. (And I’m oh so popular, you know?) I’m on Twitter much more than I used to be, but I honestly don’t find that to be as much of a time-sucker as Facebook. I just need to keep up with everything going on, don’t I?

But once in a while I get stumped when it comes to blog posts. Most of the time this happens when I’m going through a lot of personal growth and I don’t necessarily want to share it with anyone outside my inner circle.

October has been quite a month. It’s actually my favorite. I love autumn. The colors, the crisp, cool air. Our annual hike to the Pinnacle. Todd and I had our DTR (Define the Relationship) talk twelve years ago this past Monday. (That’s Treat-speak for “Dating Anniversary” I guess!) Both of my children came into the world during this month. So this month has been good—full of happy memories and new memory-making, as well as promising news regarding my career as a writer. (I will not say any more than that just yet. I am way too superstitious!)


At the top of the Pinnacle!

But October is also a difficult month in some ways. Close friends of my family lost their 25-year-old son on October 1st thirteen years ago. I don’t think this will ever be a happy month for them no matter how many years pass. My baby brother lost his leg ten years ago this Sunday. The pain we all dealt with then still comes back to me if I summon it. But I will never stop thanking God that he survived. This year one of Todd’s old friends passed away on Camilla’s birthday and, although she was not currently in our lives at all, the circumstances around her death touch me deeply. Not to mention we attend church with her extended family and seeing them in pain is just . . . tough. It’s taken me three weeks to process this into words I’m willing to share.

It’s been a month of highs and lows. I’ve felt unspeakably close to God and utterly alone. Sometimes on the same day. Sometimes I don’t know why. And here I am, a relatively private person, sharing all this in a blog post that anybody with Internet access can read and criticize if they want to. The publishing industry has driven me to this.

8 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing. I feel your pain about the internet. I have a hard time getting into blogging at all. I hate trying to build a platform but I guess we don't have a choice these days.

    This is my favorite month too. I hope it ends in a happy way for you and your family. Excited to hear about your news regarding the writing career. As writers we're always pressing ahead hoping someone will appreciate our words. I hope that is happening for you!

    Jessica

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  2. It's mind boggling isn't it? Same goes for the photography work I'm trying to get into, you need to have a personal blog, photography blog, facebook page for your photography, twitter (which I still don't have or completely understand). And I go long spans without having the urge to write a blog post, and then I feel like I have to push myself to write something (which feels completely unnatural to me, to force the writing) And sometimes I wonder how some of the bloggers I follow post 3 times a week and always seem to have some profound truth or insight in every post. Are they that much closer to God or more enlightened than I am, because sometimes all I can think of to write about is "Milani and I woke up, we hung out, it was rainy...thats about it" LOL...Best of luck on the writing career can't wait to hear your good news, and I give you so much credit for being able to write stories and tell fiction, I can't whip up a simple bedtime story to save my life! Sorry for the longest comment ever! haha

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  3. Thanks so much for commenting Jessica! Comments make it all worth it. (Which means inside I'm a college student longing for feedback!:)

    Angelina, I feel exactly the same way about the blogs I read. I'm very uninspired most of the time. I believe in forcing writing, but only sharing the good stuff. I do know that a lot of blog writers stock up and schedule blog posts ahead of time, so they're not really writing three a week. They also have other people write for their blog. It's really a business. I haven't delved into any of that yet. Sometimes I contemplate it . . . I loved your long comment and I love your blog, too.

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  4. When you force writing, even if it's to share the good stuff, are you usually happy with the resulting writing? When I force it I usually look back over it and hate it. I usually feel like it's lacking in that quality that makes writing compelling. My writing doesn't seem alive to me unless it's coming from somewhere inspired and that's where I get frustrated. I haven't figured out how to force good writing or stir up inspiration when it's not coming on it's own.

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  5. Oh, great question! If it truly feels forced the whole time, no I don't think I'm ever happy with the results. However, I think it's still an important exercise and can help you develop as a writer. Sometimes you have to sit down and force yourself to start and after a while your muse appears. Also, when I'm doing revisions, just reading what I've already written will inspire me to work on it and make it better. I believe any prolific writer writes when they have the opportunity whether they feel like it or not. If I write more words, I'm going to write a greater number of inspired words than I will if I wait for inspiration before I begin. That's my theory, anyway, gleaned from some of my favorite authors. :-)

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  6. I like it. Thanks for the insight. :-)

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  7. I really appreciate the raw honesty of this post. :0)Has it really been ten years? I remember those days like they were yesterday. Happy Birthday to Camilla & Adrian, they are growing up so very quickly!

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  8. Thanks, Mel! I've noticed a phenomenon as I get older. Time speeds up. So those events that happened when we were young always seems close to us, I think. It does seem like yesterday.

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