Saturday, November 24, 2012

My Table of Plenty

I began a new ghostwriting assignment this week. It's a bit like holding someone's hand as you lead them behind the curtain of fiction writing. Until now, it has been an obscure place for some. Magic behind the velvet barrier. Pay no attention to the chick behind the curtain. She's only orchestrating everything and playing God.

This assignment is a short story with the promise of more. I adore short stories but don't always give myself permission to write them. It's a necessary exercise for my long-winded, tangled prose. I remember economy and the beauty of simple things.

Thanksgiving this year was, blessedly, not at my house. This did not prevent a banquet at my table. The early stages of fiction planning necessitate, for me, diving back into my old favorite craft books and files. They are the pillars to which I return each time to provide the foundation of my stories. I know them by heart. I can spout the wisdom contained within from memory. Still, I return to them as a safety blanket to remind me what's important lest I forget between projects. This banquet of knowledge still fills my table, not as grizzled leftovers, but the promise of the literary meal to come.

I am blessed to be able to wake each day and spend time doing what I love. I am blessed there are a handful of people whose lives I have touched with my writing, if only for a diversionary few moments. Perhaps they'll remember, most likely not. But for those simple moments, author to reader and reader to author, there are few things so supremely transcendent. It is a rare relationship few share so intimately. I realized only recently it has everything to do with why I'm able to ghostwrite while some authors cannot.

My brother calls me a wallflower. I suppose I am. Extraordinary in my ordinariness. While my name on the NY Times list would be nice, for financial security-not fame, it isn't what motivates me. It is in the imagining of one person, one ideal reader, holding my words in his hand and being transfixed, that I find my motivation. The name on the cover could be Rosy Longbottom. I don't care. The reader and I know the secret: the magic isn't in the name. It isn't in the Oz-like scribe at the dials screaming "I wrote this! Look what I did! Aren't I awesome?" It's what's behind the curtain that counts.

Remember to join my mailing list if you want to be one of those readers. It is through my newsletter that I share, always with my client's permission, what's behind the curtain.

May your blessings be many and your burdens be light.

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Hashtag of Discontent

When the visual of my last post hit me as I logged in, it made me a bit queasy. No, silly, not Dean Butler. Manly could never do that. All the Twitter visuals. Have I become one of those people?

I've had a Twitter account for about two years. Tweet count as of this morning? Two hundred and ninety-four. There are no hard and fast statistics on this, but largely 80% of those are the result of the Vortex feed. I have tried. Tried to mine what could be fascinating in my moment-to-moment life to amuse the staggering 190 people following me because I followed them. Tried to elevate my awareness of the media such that it becomes engrained in my daily to-do list. Tried to fill those moments of waiting by whipping out my iphone and scrolling through people trying to fascinate me. Tried to raise it on my priority list of visibility and marketing. I have tried.

I'm tired of trying.

Apparently, I'm not the only one.

Forgive me for sounding like a ninety year old in a thirty-something body. What does all this nervous chasing of some nebulous social following get us? I can't attribute this to my recent theory about how somehow we've collectively skipped the track. That in Colorado, we are now teaching our kids that it's okay to smoke pot because mommy grows it in the kitchen window. That I have neighbors I barely know by sight let alone name or culture or history enough to respect them past a wave of the hand. That I am the only house on the street who displays an American flag-even on traditional flag-hanging holidays. That we again voted into office someone who can't be bothered to put his hand over his heart as a sign of respect to country and those who died so he can  have that privilege. But I digress. This isn't about politics. I can't attribute my recent social media attitude to those things because I've been thinking about it for some time now. It's about chasing the wrong things in life.

Professionally, I have only to look to my favorite authors to have an epiphany. None of them have Facebook accounts. None of them have Twitter accounts. Guess how they're spending their days? Writing. Hopefully, hugging their children. Maybe taking a walk in the Autumn breeze. And writing.

Perhaps it's because I'm hard-wired to be introverted. Perhaps because Twitter just seems like a big, crowded room filled with only a handful of people I'd ever really talk to in real life. Perhaps because there's a guy in one corner screaming to buy his book fourteen times a day and a woman in the other talking about the Greek yogurt she had for lunch whom I only follow because she edits books in New York.

I don't wish this to come across negative. Rather, a call to action of a different sort. Authors, how many books have you sold as a direct result of Twitter marketing? How many of you could have written your next book over the past six months with those hours? How many of you are exhausted trying to keep up with social media because we're told we should by someone who seems to know some grand publishing secret we don't?

I challenge you to be more aware this week of how you're spending your time. Take a walk. Nourish your body so that your mind is ready to be creative. Read a book to fill the well or get more in touch with authors in your niche. Spend time with your loved ones, not the Greek yogurt lady in the corner, because tomorrow is no guarantee. Put your smart phone with the Twitter feed down at mealtime because your children want to tell you about the butterfly they saw at recess. Social media does have it's place, but only if we put it there.

And only if it brings me Dean Butler.