I don’t actually hate social media. I think what I have is an aversion to the obligation of it. I remember back in 2007, jumping into Facebook, and being really excited that I actually knew 30 people who also had Facebook accounts, and that there was a place where I could talk about myself in a way that didn’t seem narcissistic because everybody else was doing it, too. I wasn’t trying to get published back then. I had no writer friends. It was just a place to hang out online with people I already knew in real life.
And then I got into blogging, and then Twitter, and then Instagram, and now there’s this thing called Snapchat which I’ve also joined (but only to send pictures of myself with animal face filters to my girlfriends, because we find that shit funny). We’re told – no, encouraged – no, expected – as writers to have an online presence, to make ourselves accessible to our readers. And yes, I see the importance of that. 99% of the time, hearing from readers is a joy. Every so often, though, I’ll get a mean email, from someone who didn’t like something I wrote, and they’ll come at me with their metaphorical fists up, wanting to fight. It comes with the territory, and I totally get it, but I’m still a person, and when someone goes out of their way to make me feel bad, it’s hard to not actually feel bad.
Social media is bigger and louder than it was back in 2007; more personal, but less intimate. It’s the #1 place for me to get my news about the world, but there are days when it seems like all of the news is terrible, and I can feel myself buckling under the weight of it. People share a lot of information about their kids and their dogs and last night’s dinner and the movie they watched that I already know I’ll never see. I share that stuff, too. Occasionally I’ll see a really good meme that makes me laugh or ponder, but I can’t bring myself to hit the share button because your was used instead of you’re, and hello, I’m a writer and can’t share shit that has grammatical errors.
I’m equal parts introvert and extrovert, and it’s a finely-tuned balance that requires adjustment every single day. There are days when I crave the noise and camaraderie of social media, because it makes me feel valued and included and not alone. But there are days when I need to fully retreat. Especially when I’m writing something new. I write best when the space around me is silent.
I just finished exporting all my old posts from Blogger, and got to skim over the stuff I wrote back in 2009, long before the first book was even finished. It’s easy to see how much I’ve grown, and not just as a writer, but as a human. I used to be so focused on outcomes. On end results. On getting to where I wanted to be. Not anymore. Why? Well, because the goal post keeps moving, and the endless pursuit of “success” (whatever the fuck that is) is exhausting, and it makes me miss everything else that’s happening around me. But also because – if I’ve learned anything in publishing so far – it’s that you can’t control the outcome of . . . well, most everything.
Except the book, as you write it. That’s where the magic is. That part hasn’t changed, not even a little bit. I need to be reminded of this occasionally. Sometimes I get so caught up in listening to what other people are saying, I can’t hear my own voice. Because that voice doesn’t shout. It whispers.
What’s the point of this post? I guess I just wanted to say that I’m still here, still writing, still living, still doing my thing. And also, it’s really good to see you. Your kids are cute and so is your dog, and whatever it was that you had for dinner last night, can I have the recipe?