Being away from the internet left me thinking a lot about what it means to "be accessible." We are always hearing that as writers, aren't we? At least I am. It's important to "be accessible" to your readers. It's important to "be accessible" to bloggers and reviewers and agents and editors and essentially the media at large.
To be honest, sometimes I feel TOO accessible. Sometimes that makes for difficult, awkward, or time consuming situations. And I'm not even published! I can't imagine how much time it takes for an actual author to "be accessible."
When I really think about it, why are we expected to be available to the whole world? Why do I feel pressured to have my email on my blog, so that anyone under the sun can talk to me? Truth is, I don't know the answers. I've just been thinking about it a lot, trying to figure out where the line is—the line between being available, open, kind and supportive, and being so overstretched with non-essentials that I don't have time for the most important part of my "job." You know, that whole writing books thing.
What makes it tougher is that the line changes, I think. When I first started exploring the online world, I had the time to comment and reply and be there for whoever needed it. That time seems to dwindle everyday, and it makes me feel awful. I worry that people will think I'm a jerk because I'm not saying yes to absolutely everything. I worry that I am somehow hurting feelings or losing opportunities or whatever.
Don't get me wrong, I love me some social networking. It has brought me many a good thing. But having done it for a while now, I'm starting to understand that it certainly takes a toll. Sometimes I'm just plain tired of trying to make my life look interesting. You know what? It's not. I love my life, but it's your average life.
Everything we say about ourselves has to be sensationalized, doesn't it? Everyone else seems to be doing interesting stuff. Why aren't we doing cool things? Why don't we have any news? Why can't I think of anything to tweet about that doesn't involve food?
And worst of all—Why does it make me feel so bad about myself?
It's always, "Don't be boring. You're doomed if you're boring. No one will like you if you have nothing new or funny or interesting to say." Talk about pressure. Talk about encouraging people to put on a mask and perform their social networking duty. Sometimes, the whole thing feels supremely un-fun. Even knowing that most everyone has an extremely normal life, the facade still tricks my mind into thinking I'm the only one out there who spends the day doing nothing but the simple things that make up life.
I'm not even sure what I'm saying here. Perhaps that I get tired, and maybe that's okay. Maybe it's okay that I don't want to be accessible sometimes, and maybe it's okay if you feel that way, too.
I confess...I have separate emails for family, friends, job, and blog, so that I can prioritize. And when I get vacation time, I tell everyone way ahead of time that I will be out of range. As for blogging, it's something that I do for pleasure, and so I read and comment when I can but I don't stress if I can't, and I think most bloggers understand that. I hope others feel the same way, because I would hate to think that my blog was on someone's "chore" list :)ReplyDelete
I need one of those pecan bars with dark chocolate on the top. Those are good!ReplyDelete
Wow, the next follower is going to be leet (1337).ReplyDelete
I'm with you one-hundred percent and I don't even blog or tweet nearly as much as you do. But when I do it takes away a lot of time from everything else in my life, which is also a supremely normal life.ReplyDelete
Not to contradict Kiersten's awesome tagline, but in the real world, normal is so NOT overrated. I love normal. It makes the abnormal all the more fun. Hooray for normal!
Dangit, I want to be leet, but I'm already a follower...ReplyDelete
"Sometimes I'm just plain tired of trying to make my life look interesting. You know what? It's not. I love my life, but it's your average life."
Yes. This. Yes.
Vacations (i.e., unplugging/disconnecting) are great for giving that sort of perspective, which we so dearly need! I just got back from my vacation too, and I immediately purged a bunch of feeds from my Reader. I want to hang on to some of the peace and relaxation that I found away from the keyboard - even now that I'm back at it and happy to be working.
Here's to hoping we can find our line, and keep finding it even when it moves!
This is something I worry about, though not in a tangible way since I've just started blogging and have only written two unpublished books. I'm doing the conference thing, the writing group thing, all the stuff you're supposed to do and, now, at the beginning of what I hope is a long journey, it feels good to do these things. I don't work in an office and bring home big bucks anymore. I write, I change diapers and I occasionally get paid for copy writing. The building of a community, the self-education feels good right now, like 'real work' - I know I shouldn't say that, or course raising kids is real work - but this feels real and mine alone.ReplyDelete
As for being interesting, I don't bother. I just write what occurs to me and hope for the best. Today I wrote about my mother's sock. I think it's pretty inspiring!
You're sweet and decent and good-hearted and it's enough. Remember that.ReplyDelete
I don't even read YA. It's not what I write. But I still read you on the reader all the time because you put a lot of good out there.
The fact that you took a vacation is a good sign. On our last trip to Aruba, my husband sat on the beach with his laptop and cell phone in case work "needed" him. They didn't. The world/internet/blogosphere will survive if you take a few days for yourself!ReplyDelete
And then they'll take you back with open arms when you return : )
I need to find the line. Because I can relate to what you say about spending too much time reading and responding on blogs. It feels like my job or something. I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings. So after I get home from work, the first thing I do is turn on the computer. And when I wake up after I turn on the coffee.ReplyDelete
I totally laughed (like wheezing, I can't believe those poor people who live there, type of laugh) when I read that. Oh, and I agree about the availability thing. Sometimes it's nice to be gone. My husband has a smart phone and they drive me crazy sometimes with how available that makes him.ReplyDelete
I don't Twitter and don't plan to. I know a lot of authors get a lot out of it, and I'm probably missing out on contacts and news. That's okay with me. I'm not interested in an extra time commitment.ReplyDelete
My boys are on spring break, so I planned ahead last week: blog posts written, one manuscript off to my editor, another off to my agent. I've had time to go to a museum, go out to breakfast with my family, sleep in, and read. And it has been bliss. Breaks are necessary, not only to refresh but to gain perspective on how I'm spending my time and what might need changing.
I think you're doing a great job! For me, I know that the writers/bloggers I read are busy, and I don't expect to have everything I say I replied to. I believe Shannon Hale talked about this in a recent blog post as well. I think what's most important is that connection between the reader and the writer with social networking. If you've got good voice online (and you do) then I'm going to like you. Even when you Tweet about food. ;)ReplyDelete
There's an Effingham Street in my hometown. When my brother was young we passed by it and he said... "Ha ha. Effing. Ham. An effing ham." It still makes me laugh and I live here. :)ReplyDelete
Amen. Some days I feel like my life is way too boring for anyone to care about but me.ReplyDelete
But it's still valuable. And so is yours, no matter what the social-networking gurus say.
Thanks, as always, for being so honest and compassionate about writing, and about life.
I have such a hard time keeping up with Facebook/Blog/Twitter... and I'm not even published yet! It's super difficult to draw a line. If you figure that one out, you'll have to let the rest of us know.ReplyDelete
On to more important things though... Effingham! Love it. I drove through there this winter and it has rapidly become my new favorite word. It's an excellent for a curse, as in "That Effingham cat barfed on the rug again." And I've started referring to my husband as Sir Effingham... lord of the Effingham house. ;)
I think that what you do is a great service. Really. You spend a lot of time working on this blog and have been very enlightening and honest about what it means to be a writer.ReplyDelete
I, personally, would understand if you couldn't update everyday, or answer every comment or email. I think that most people would. You should take care of you...but know, that we're all grateful.
Yup. You have to have a life, too. Your own life.ReplyDelete
You just wrote exactly how I feel. A lot of the time. 100%. I always find it amusing how we all try to be what we expect everyone wants from us, when they are doing exactly the same thing. I'm one of the most boringly normal people I know, but there is still that sense of "I have to be entertaining or humorous or talented or ..." What if I'm not. (Okay. I'm really not. Entertaining or humorous. Most of the time. I reserve the right to be talented, though.)ReplyDelete
Also, Kansas. Were you on I-70? That is the most exciting stretch of road I have ever experienced. Especially the reminder that the world's largest Prairie Dog is only 50... 40... 30... miles away. I love Kansas, though, for other reasons.
Have you driven through Nebraska before? It's a lot like Kansas, except bigger.ReplyDelete
I love the line about tweeting about something that doesn't involve food. See how funny you are?
Effingham! I was there two summers ago on a bike trip (if you think Kansas is boring in a car, just wait...) and endlessly amused by it as well. The people we met there were supremely nice, but I didn't understand why every business didn't take advantage of the available puns; I imagined an entire economy organized around selling Effing burgers, Effing t-shirts, and Effing coffee mugs.ReplyDelete
I avoid most social networking sites, including Twitter and Facebook, just so I won't be that accessible. But then again I tend to be antisocial more often than not. :) But I think there's nothing wrong with wanting to spend more time on your fiction writing than on social networking, especially since most of us started writing fiction before the whole social networking thing became popular.ReplyDelete
I don't think you need to do all this (if you don't want to), just put all your energy into writing something great.ReplyDelete
Any feeling of compulsion to do something you don't really want to is worth paying attention to. It's not much different from obsessive eyelash-plucking. There's a whole world off the grid. I won't even buy a cell phone because I want to be accessible only on my own terms. Then again, I ain't normal.ReplyDelete
this blog entertaines me thurally. And im already a follower...haha.ReplyDelete
This could have not been more timely. I have had a hard time writing lately, so yesterday I kind of blew off all my blog-twitter-facebook stuff and just...worked. No worrying about whether or not I was doing it right--just worked.ReplyDelete
It ROCKED. I got loads done and was able to focus (so not my strong suite). And I totally get what you're saying about pressure. I worry about making sure I'm saying interesting things/the right things in online interactions, when I often feel like I have nothing to say/too often screw it up and say the wrong thing.
It's a very tricky balance between learning the craft and the business, being accessible and being an artist. I'm still trying to strike that balance. And you're right. It's exhausting. Sometimes it's good to just leave the intarwebs alone for a bit.
It does get un-fun. The more I get into this, the more un-fun social networking becomes unless it's actually connecting to people I know and care about on a more personal basis. The pressure to perform, and now to sell books, is even even more un-fun than I ever thought it could be. I wouldn't trade any of this for anything, but I constantly have to remind myself to rebalance.ReplyDelete
I don't think anyone could ever think you were a jerk, and if they did that would be an outright display of their jerkiness.ReplyDelete
I'm new to reading blogs and whatnot and this is the first time I've commented here but, I think one of the reasons I like your blog so much is because it really gives a sense of community. It's inclusive. The reason I follow isn't so much that your life seems exciting (you fooled me haha) but just for the feeling of being part of something.
Holy mother of bacon, you got me with "the only interesting things I talk about are food." Yeah, that's exactly how I feel.ReplyDelete
And I've pondered how to be more private, but still out there. It's hard. I don't know how to do it. But I'm working on pulling back and pushing forward at the same time.
Again, I'm totally off point, but what is leet?ReplyDelete
I agree with anon 3:22. (Although I do read and write YA.:D)ReplyDelete
I write & occasionally tweet. I take time for for my husband, 4 kiddos and Glee. Sometimes I run, sometimes I get dressed to go for a run then get sucked into my WIP and then settle for just feeling guilty that I didn't run. I don't blog -- but I follow yours. Why? Because you're honest. You're real. You're sweet. You're funny (and I have to admit, you're sporting some sassy shoes in your profile pic). You've helped me tremendously in my writing/publishing journey (now querying my 2nd novel, the first got bites but no takers-ouch), and I think you're fabulous the way you are. Because you're real, and you're you.
But-- if blogging ever feels more like a chore rather than a fun release, then maybe scale back. Pick a day, or two. You can always blog more, and you have evergreen posts for those needing a quick Nat-fix. Food for thought. :D
And glad to hear you had an Effing-good time on your vacation.
I just dropped out of every online group I'm in and quit Twitter. Yikes. It feels scary and weird, but I have come to this too. And what I really want to do, what I got in those groups to begin with, is to write. And write well.ReplyDelete
And for now, that means taking a step back from the internet and finding my book again.
I've driven past Effingham's signs many times while driving to Missouri. Cracked me up everytime. Then my daughter and I would like up all kinds of sentences to use it in. Fun stuff.ReplyDelete