Tag Archives: social media

Where Do You Live Your Life?

29 Aug

by Savannah J. Foley

~~~

In July I was lucky enough to be able to go on a retreat with some of the girls here at the blog. We talked constantly for five days about writing and writers, and this is something I’d been thinking about for a while that I finally voiced to Kat Zhang:

Don’t you think it’s funny that huge-name authors, like J.K. Rowling, Stephenie Meyer, and Suzanne Collins, have humongous fan bases and best-selling works, and practically zero web presence?

Stephenie Meyer hasn’t updated her website with any sort of personal note since May 17th. In 2010.

J. K. Rowling did just launch Pottermore, but before that her most recent update was from 2008. She also has a barely-used Twitter account where so far all she has done is confirm that it is actually her official twitter.

Suzanne Collins’ website looks like it’s from the 90’s and has zero personal update information.

Why?

Why would these megastars of the writing world NOT utilize all the social media applications we’ve been told will make or break us? Here’s why I think it is:

They are living their lives in the real wold, not the virtual one.

And that made me wonder… where am I living my life? I was slightly disturbed to realize that most of my life is entirely virtual. I don’t have any friends in town; all of them are online. LTWF takes up a lot of my thoughts and energy, and I’m an active member of several online communities. I wasn’t disturbed from an anti-technology perspective, and actually I’m in the camp that believes all this technology has brought all of us closer together. But it’s a different sort of mind space, and it made me realize that… I love my virtual life, but I miss my life in the real world, too.

Here’s my issue with cutting off all my social media, though: I pride myself on being available. I have my gmail up constantly. I see everything the instant it comes in. On one hand, this is great; through gmail I get to chat with my boyfriend and my writing friends all day long. I’ve gotten some wonderful opportunities just by being able to instantly respond to something. But it’s also a big distraction. Every time something pops up I leave whatever I’m doing to see what it is.

The other weekend I tried writing with the internet closed down. No gmail. No Twitter. No Facebook. It felt good. It felt like the old days when I wrote in my room because I loved it, because I couldn’t stay away from my stories.

But could I live like that? Could I be like Joanne, Stephenie, and Suzanne, and not tell the internet at large what I’m up to?

I grew up posting to Fictionpress and FanFiction.net. I’ve always written ‘publicly’. I’ve heard some writers say they have to feel like what they’re working on is ‘private’ or they get too stressed and can’t perform. But I love thinking about my audience while I’m writing. I get so excited, and can’t wait to share it with you (though these days all I can do is tell you how awesome it is on Twitter, lol). I enjoy updating my word counts every day, and posting on Facebook about the awesome thing my character just did (like cutting off a zombie’s head with a circular saw).

I can take breaks and not check my media accounts, and it feels nice, but I don’t think I could ever go fully private. The internet is too much a part of my life. But I do sometimes think it would be nice to be completely unplugged, or to never have plugged in at all. Life would consist of my family, my town, my pets, and my writing, and that’s it.

But this also ties into something else I’ve been worrying about… social media and ‘branding’. During the retreat, Susan relayed a story about a writer who emailed her to ask if she really, really needed to have a website like everyone said? Susan gave a great answer: Only get one if you really want it.

Yes, publishers will probably want you to have a website, but that doesn’t mean you have to blog or update it constantly. It can just be a landing place for people who want to know more about you and your books.

Here’s the thing about blogging: Everyone is doing it, and it’s hard to do it right. I’ve struggled with blogging for a long time, because I’m not a social media guru, and I don’t particularly want to be an ‘expert’ on any one thing. I do love writers and helping out writers, but there are already so many awesome websites devoted to teaching about writing and publishing (like this one) that starting my own on the side would be pointless, and redundant.

Instead I decided I would just blog about me and my projects. After all, if you’re coming to my website that’s what you’re interested in, right? And it doesn’t matter if I don’t have a million comments or a fan club or 5,000 Twitter followers. If J.K, Stephenie, and Suzanne have taught us anything (from a social media perspective), it’s that you don’t need to do all that in order to have readers. All you have to do is write a great book.

And that’s where I want to live my life. Offline or not, I want to make sure that I’m giving enough dedicated, distraction-free time to my writing. So while I’m not going to unplug completely, I will cut down a bit, and accept that I don’t have to be ‘available’ constantly. I will allow myself to be busy.

Busy living. 🙂

~~~

Savannah J. Foley is the author of the Nameless (originally known as Woman’s World) series on Fictionpress and is signed with the Bradford Literary Agency. Her website and blog is at www.savannahjfoley.com. She is currently working with her agent to sell a sleeping beauty retelling about a girl who wakes up after a hundred years with no memory of her former life. You can read excerpts from her stories here.

Advertisements