A quick note, some conversational typing, before I go out and do something more substantive, hopefully. I lost a friend, or discovered I’d not had him for years and hadn’t noticed, a few months back, a writer I knew from the nineties, from my first long term workshop, who started flaming me on twitter, saying he couldn’t stand another self-congratulatory post about a magazine sale or some navel-gazing reverie about my process.
“Get your head out of your ass!” he said to me, I thought, with love and affection.
So I chatted with him some, long enough to discover, that any love or affection he’d had for me had long since gone. He blocked me after interacting strangely with a few friends who had attempted to defend me.
I’ve long questioned what the hell I was supposed to be doing with social media, other than screaming about politics, which, as we all know, is mostly useless, but sort of fun and fulfilling in a truly horrible way. I engaged in a conversation on my wall. “I think I need to construct a writer persona, who would be this character, who would write things people would want to read. Reading those posts would make people want to buy my stuff.”
People scoffed. “That’s crazy!” They said. “Be yourself.”
Emboldened by that advice I stuffed my head up my own ass.
A year or two later a successful business person / novelist friend of mine pointed out that he’d never seen so self-sabotaging a social media presence. I was basically furious all the time about stuff. Being myself wasn’t working. At all.
So. What do I talk about?
I can talk about writing and my writing process but with 30 professional short story sales (and two novellas) spread over the last 20 years, who the hell wants to emulate my process? One of the reasons I stuffed my head up my ass was that I felt like I was a second act, an inspirational tale, and I wanted to share that, without realizing that, to the young people coming out of Clarion who I met at conventions, I was more or a cautionary tale. Like Rip Van Winkle waking up after decades of sleep. (I quit writing fiction for eighteen years.)
I guess, what I am doing and what I have been doing is reaching out to a community, to try to conjure one into being, in one of the most indirect methods imaginable, like writing in sharpie on interstate restroom walls to find friends.
I joined three writing workshops and worked with people on their stuff and made a few friends. I’m not completely alone. One of the reasons I fell into the failed start-up trap was because I wanted a roomful of friends to work with.
In a way Facebook is that roomful of friends. But I can’t be there now. I can’t be that person who is screaming and angry. But I’m not great at being alone, either. I need to get back to my word count, my secondary creation, my process, to the people in my head. And pull my head out of my ass… at the same time.
Lectures… civic engagement… interviews as research… these are the next step. Be in the real world. Find contact there.
Wish me luck.