Technical writers or non fiction writers scribble to pay the bills and for the love of the analytical or the exercise of truth or deception.

Fiction authors write to illuminate their world or escape it.

Whichever kind of writer, it's all about staying alive and helping or entertaining others.

The Writing Life

Like most writers, I have a love of reading and the power of words. When I was younger, I read everything I could get my hands on, but I don’t consider myself well read. I consumed books like a starved person, so quickly I hardly knew what I had read. By some strange process of osmosis, I learned from everything I read, but I cannot give you an erudite discussion of characters, plots, or authors. I can only tell you it’s lodged some where in the core of my being and informs my writing.

In addition to reading, I’ve spent a life time writing---from that first elementary school composition to my college days when I studied French literature and wrote explications de texte. Along the way, I fell into technical writing--to put food on the table and pay bills. In the 90s, I had the good fortune to take a dialog class with Sol Stein, former owner of Stein & Day publishers in New York and a prolific author. That led to his California-based writers’ group, Chapter One. It was a rigorous, ego-bruising experience, but I was intent on learning everything I could about fiction writing. A few years ago, I also had the good fortune to study with another writer, Louella Nelson, an experienced romance writer and teacher of fiction writing. She provided a different perspective and balance to my writing.

My novel, DREAMING OF LAUGHING HAWK, a mainstream, Sixties era novel, is available on Amazon in print and ebook (also available in Canada, Europe, Japan, and Brazil). Download a free sample. If you like it, I hope you'll download the book and post a review on Amazon.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Social Media: The Double-Edged Sword

I don't know about you, but some days I feel overwhelmed by the amount of "stuff" that ends up in my email accounts and flows through all the social media accounts I have. Yesterday I did something that felt great: I killed an account--LinkedIn. Let me tell you that it felt good. I maintained this account when I was working full time as it provided a basic networking service. (Yes, if you want a useful, fully functional experience, you have to pay a monthly fee.) Later I adapted my account to serve my writing interests and book promotion. But LinkedIn didn't serve me in a way that engaged. I no longer cared about maintaining business contacts, and no matter how I tried to inform people in my profile that I no longer was a technical writer, people kept sending me job offers or other information that clearly didn't match my revised profile. So I hit the Delete button and it's gone baby, gone. I feel a little freer.

Then there's the infamous Facebook. I admit it is a convenient way to keep tabs on family and friends and communicate with them. But then maybe I should pick up the phone or hop on a plane or just sit down and write them a real letter. Facebook gets junked up with ads and things I find annoying so I have to spend time filtering them out. It becomes an obsessive and mostly boring compulsion. How many videos of cute dogs and little kids do you have to see? How many selfies from a bar across town? How many obnoxious postings about politics and religion? I don't know but it just seems like Facebook is sometimes a dumping ground for all the stupid stuff you can accumulate in a day. I hang in there because every now and then I can glean a useful piece of information from the mess that is Facebook. Another annoying thing is that Facebook is always changing its complex privacy settings. It makes you feel like you're traversing a mine field.

Twitter? Meeh. It's a good mental challenge, I guess, to see if you can concisely convey something in 140 characters or less, but why? I do use Twitter occasionally and I try to embrace it, but once again I find it annoying and another garbage heap of information that you have to wade through no matter how carefully you set up your filters. I do not use Twitter for family or friends. It's strictly for hanging out with strangers with similar interests as far as I'm concerned.

Oh, there are all kinds of social media you can sign up for out there in cyberspace, but my favorite so far is Pinterest. First of all, it's visual. I've collected catalogs of images of things that interest me, truly  interest me--photography, cuisine, watercolor, ceramics, gardening, writing, foreign languages, and on and on. The focus of Pinterest is sharing information and ideas. You can link a visual you post with information you want to share--a technique, an idea, a recipe, etc. You can pin items from other users to your personal bulletin boards and you can share you're bulletin boards with your followers--or not. What I like about Pinterest is that it makes your brain work and it gives you a forum for sharing information without all the stupidity that seems to attend so much of social media. So here I am embracing information overload, but it's beautiful. It's information my visually-oriented brain can process. (Yes, I must have that recipe. No, I don't want to implement that landscape design.)

These days I'm thinking how I can make social media work for me rather than be something I want to stab with a steely knife. I don't want to drift into traffic reading my email on my iPhone and get run over. I don't want to spend hours involved in clicking on meaningless videos or quizzes and games. I don't want to deal with all the ego, venom, and misinformation that passes for communication. I just want to find a useful way to communicate that doesn't feel like a burden. What about you?


  1. You've nailed it! And I'm motivated to kill Linked In also. I don't get Instagram and can get rid of that...Twitter flew right by me. I have become dependent on Facebook for info about my nieces and nephews but share your opinion about all those forwards and quizzes and the advertising. I should explore Pinterest more thoroughly. Does your desk really look like that??

    1. Ha! I've never had a desk that looks like that. My desk is a cluttered mess. When it reaches critical mass, I straighten everything up and enjoy a few minutes of organization before everything starts its spiral into chaos. I'll have to post a picture of my desk someday. It's a disaster, but I know where everything is--I think.

  2. I'm still muddling through it all. The time it takes is mind blowing, and I can't get past all the, gosh, what's a good word, crap? When I signed with my publisher to publish my third book I had to agree to 3 different social media sights, FB GR, and Pinterest, although they had them all listed, those were the ones I choose. Now I'm struggling to do just that, and keep up a blog (platform) it's crazy, and a drain, but a necessary evil! I've always been a wallflower, not good at small talk, and prefer the written word, so the struggle is real. My desk is a mess today, but usually it's pretty neat. I like things in order, our of order, I usually am too. :)

    1. Yes, it's hard isn't it? I keep trying to find the magic solution--one that appeals to me, not one that feels alien. And I have to admit to being a wallflower also. I think a lot of writers are not good at small talk. So far I am unwilling to commit to the time it takes to maintain social media. From my perspective it's an unhappy job that should be done by someone else. I know, bad attitude.