The Death of Words

As I write this, I can’t help but think of “Video Killed the Radio Star.”

I’ve spent some time researching how to create a better blog. While I’d much rather spend time on crafting the best novel I can, I know it’s important to keep the blog up. Not just keep the blog up but to write interesting things, attract followers, and so on and so on. I’m confident that everyone that blogs knows that attracting new followers is a big thing. While I can write, marketing and selling has never really been my thing.

So, I’ve turned to the experts. By that, I mean, the Internet. Seems like the right place to go in this case.

I’ve never been an early adapter. I like taking risk (like jumping out of airplanes) but new technologies, not so much. Let’s just say when I was a kid, my dad bought the family a Betamax, convinced it was the perfect purchase. If you don’t know what that last phrase means, you should Google it for fun. I come to this blogging thing a bit late. In large part because I really don’t have anything interesting to say and also because when I ghost blogged, I learned how easy it can be to lose control of original content. And how hard it can be to get it back.

Late to the party, the experts have shown me that blogging is kind of over. Not dead, per se. Just passe. It’s all about You Tube stars (vloggers and people doing crazy stuff). Please. I can barely summon the courage to do this blog. I’m supposed to put my face to it?

Other advice has consisted of including gifs – or at the very least, pictures – within the text to break-up the monotonous chore of reading. No one wants to see too much text without pretty pictures apparently. Not to be obnoxious, but I can’t think of the last novel I read that included pictures, even YA novels. There’s also the ever popular listicle (a completely interesting word on so many levels). I have no problems with the list format as a method of writing and disseminating information. I worry, though, that it doesn’t improve my writing.

What really worries me is that the shift to these styles of communication and media (since vlogging isn’t exactly writing) is that it isn’t helping us as readers. I’ve gotten used to Twitter shorthand and now accept the fact that questionable spelling and grammar are necessary, required even, because of the 140 character limit. But when I’m getting advice like “stick a picture in there so your readers don’t have to read so much,” I get concerned that as a society, we’re failing ourselves.

Pictures on a cooking blog or a DIY blog make sense. If you’re giving me instructions on how to re-roof my house by myself, a couple of diagrams and pictures, even gifs, might prove useful. Of course, if you’re able to explain it clearly and I get it and can then do it without pictures, you’re an awesome writer. However, I feel that no one is that awesome, so again, pictures seem necessary.

But on a blog that’s sort of about writing? Or, let’s be real here, nothing in particular? I kind of feel like that says that I, the writer, doesn’t trust you, the reader, to fill it in. That I don’t think you can figure out what I’m trying to describe. Doesn’t that mean I’m not such a great writer? Shouldn’t I be able to create that image for you in your mind’s eye? Or worse, does it mean that I think that you, the reader, lack the critical reading skills to figure out what I’m saying so I just say, “Fuck it. I’ll throw a picture in here, just in case you don’t have that ability”?

What does this say about the experts that advise me to do this? Yes, I know, I went to the Internet for advice, so I kind of get what I deserve. And, also, I do know there is the giraffe picture on this blog. But it’s one picture. At the end of a post. And it’s a great picture of a giraffe.

I worry this means that we, as a collective group, are watching the death of the written word as a form of communication. Not just in terms of sharing stories, but in terms of sharing ideas, information, and even history. I know a picture is worth a thousand words, but what about when you don’t have a camera handy. A rarity these days, for sure, but it can and does happen. And then what? What happens when we lose the ability to describe something without a snazzy gif? How will that change things? How will that change how we communicate in any form?

 

Tuning Out

I’ve been trying to write this post for about an hour, but I keep getting distracted. I had a whole other topic in mind for today but I’ve forgotten what it is. I’m sure I’ve got it filed away in my brain somewhere, but I can’t seem to find it. Knowing me, I probably wrote it down somewhere, but I can’t find my notebook. I think it’s in my car, but I can’t find the motivation to get up and get it so I can see what I was thinking about the topic for today. I think it was about writing. I’m not sure. I don’t remember.

See, I did something stupid. Actually, I’m still doing it. Right now as I type this. I’m allowing myself to be distracted. I say “allowing” because I could stop it. I could close all the active tabs on the computer, make the Internet go away, tune Pandora to something less fun, close Twitter. But, I can’t.

Mostly, I’m fascinated by Twitter right now. Either I’ve never stayed logged in for this long or today just happens to be a very active tweeting kind of day. Every time I look, there’s new tweets. I go to refill my coffee cup, 2 more tweets. I open them, find an interesting link, click it, read the article, finish and, 3 more tweets. I look at them real quick, get up to pee, come back six tweets. Open those and… You get the idea.

There’s no real reason for this. Let’s face it, most of the tweets aren’t particularly earth shattering. Some have links to interesting writery things. Those are OK. Sometimes things are funny and I laugh. But, truly, most of the tweets are time wasters. Sure, you could say that the writer related ones are work related, what with me being a part-time writer and all. But, it’s not like most of the tweets are going to advance my career. It would be cool if they could, though. And, of course, there’s all the links to the quizzes and all the other click bait I fall for.

It took me about 10 minutes longer than it should have to type that last paragraph because of all the incoming tweets. Seriously! What is wrong with me? Don’t answer that. Because, I’ll answer it myself.

I’m having a case of doubt. Ever have that? Sure, we all have. And, this isn’t my first case of doubt. I don’t know what number it is, but I know it’s not the first, or the last.

My latest WIP is actually my third attempt (or maybe 4th?) at a novel. Non fiction I can do. Essays I can do. Ghost writing I can do. Rambling blog posts are clearly not a problem. Novels, though… Ack. I have a good idea, but it’s vague and as I develop it becomes a little less vague, but not clear enough to coalesce into anything resembling a novel. It’s not just the telling not showing thing, I can’t quite figure out how to end it. Or the direction it should take to the foggy ending. It’s like a road trip that starts off really well but then the GPS goes out and you don’t have cell service and you kind of go, well, OK, whatever, lets keep going and see what happens and you drive and drive and drive and eventually drive off into nowhere and run out of gas. The end.

Not a very good road trip. Though possibly how a good story starts.

So, I’m allowing myself to be distracted today by the tweeting (7 sitting there right now. I’m sure I’ll check in a second) to avoid the fact that I am, once again, stuck. It’s difficult to be stuck, because I don’t know how to get unstuck. I have a great idea, but that’s about it. No where to go with it. I’ve tried a few times, but run out of gas.

What’s funny (to me) about this whole thing is that for as many times as this has happened to me, I keep coming back. Trying again. Starting over with another foggy idea. Or beating the old one because I’m not totally convinced it’s dead. Yet. I hope that’s the definition of grit. Persistence. So that when the day comes that I have done it and I have finished it and it’s published¬†I can say I didn’t give up. I kept trying until I succeeded because I believed.

But right now there are 4 new tweets to waste time with. Believing can wait until later.

 

 

Powering Through

I am utterly sleep deprived after this weekend and it’s making it hard to get anything done.

The weekend started with a huge storm. I was just about done with work when the power went out. I waited until it seemed like the storm was letting up enough to travel, then figured I’d take my chances with everyone else. I turn left out of the parking lot to find tree branches on cars and a flooded street. Turned around, and made it home the other way. Thankfully, we weren’t hit quite as hard at home. Plenty of power and no flooding.

The weekend ended with a split lip and the garage smelling like skunk. Don’t ask. But feel free to use it as a writing prompt.

As a result of the long weekend, I’m barely functioning. I’m sure that’s due in part to it being Monday and really, who likes Monday? And, it might have something to do with the fact that I took a bike ride this morning because the weather was perfect for it and after I refueled with two cups of coffee and an apple cider doughnut. Yep. That might have something to do with it.

So, in summary, I have no one to blame but myself for the Monday blues.

That’s OK. I’m excited about something I discovered on Twitter called Friday Phrases. Click through to check it out if you’re looking for a new way to exercise your writing muscles. I thought it would be really difficult at first but once I got going, it was a lot of fun and really got the creative side of me going. I’m going to try again this week, probably using whatever the optional theme is. That’s a good starting off point for me. And from there, who knows?

I found it to be a great way to think through things without having to try too hard. Not that it’s easy. It’s just that doing this doesn’t require as much plotting, planning, thinking and back story as, say, a full length novel. It’s also something I can whip out with paper and pen real quick when inspired, unlike the WIP. I don’t have to know the character(s) in depth and as completely as I do for the WIP (which I discovered over the weekend is one of my problems) or really know their motivations, or really anything. I mean, with only 140 characters there isn’t much room to wonder about their childhoods and how that affected their future choices.

And with that, it’s time for lunch. I’ll switch to water, I promise. And eat a healthy lunch with protein and veggies. No carbs. That should help.

Happy Monday and happy blogging!

What is it Worth?

Happy Hump Day!

I haven’t said something that silly since about 7th grade. Not gonna lie, though. It makes me laugh. A tiny, tiny bit.

Given it’s Wednesday, it’s my regularly scheduled day off work. It might be an unscheduled day tomorrow, too. But, let’s focus on today. I made a list of stuff to accomplish today. It included things like “laundry,” and “return crap to Target.” Normal stuff. It included a few outside the ordinary things like “finish thank you notes,” and “buy socks.” Nowhere on the list did it say “work on WIP.”

It struck me this morning when I was reviewing that I hadn’t put that on the list. Did that mean I wasn’t planning on working on it? Did it mean I would only work on it if I finished everything else on the list like a reward? Did it mean I intend to work on it and don’t need to write it down because, of course, I will?

The mind works in mysterious ways. Also, I doubt I’ll ever know. Or care.

Yesterday I was discussing Twitter making me dizzy. Since it’s day time and my mind is a little clearer, I flipped through my feed again. It didn’t make me¬†as dizzy as yesterday. Though it was still quite cluttered.

What struck me, though, was how many people were discussing their newly published works, whether that was through a traditional publisher or independently. Lots and lots and lots and lots of books. I’ll probably read a few when I get a chance. Hard to pass up a 99 cent book these days (even though I’m hating Amazon right now).

It takes a lot of work to write a book. This I know. But, it also seems, it takes even more work to get your book noticed. You’d think this would be made easier with the invention of this Internet thing, but it seems to me (and I’m no marketing/PR guru so what do I know?) it’s that much harder to be heard and noticed. Now, I’m not wondering so much what does it take to get noticed, but I’m wondering if it’s all worth it.

I mean, in some respects, it will always be worth it because I’ll never stop writing. I can’t. I don’t know how. But, it’s not paying the bills right now (which is fine. That’s what the day job is for), and I can’t do it for free forever. So, I’m wondering if I will ever call it quits and say it’s not worth it. It’s harder and harder to get noticed these days and I can think of plenty of indie writers who were turned down by the big publishers, only to find success (however that is defined) self-publishing, but that looks like a bunch of work, too, and by my very nature, I tend toward lazy.

Like this rambling blog post. What a great way to procrastinate not just the list, but the WIP. At least I’m writing.

Fumbling Through

Twitter makes me dizzy.

I followed a few more people yesterday and my God! Do they post. Some of them, about once a minute. I’m not kidding. Every. Single. Minute. The whole thing has started to remind me of Craigslist. Like when you’re selling something and you have to repost it every hour or so, so your item doesn’t get pushed to the bottom. At least Craigslist has a system to stop you from doing that. Sort of, anyway. Not on Twitter. All though, to give the writer folks I started following credit, they do mix it up quite a bit.

It makes me wonder what the whole point of self-promotion is. I mean, I get the “point”: to promote me, my work, blah, blah, blah. What I don’t get is how to figure out what the best strategy is when you aren’t famous yet. When you aren’t even known. When you’re just another voice in the crowd. I’ll say this much, I’m not sure retweeting every single thing you see and posting about how awesome your new book is every two seconds is the way to go. Of course, if I had a book out right now, I’d be pretty excited, too and probably want to tweet a lot as well.

I’ve been reading up on it. Using hashtags to get noticed, proper etiquette (there’s such a thing), how to retweet properly, when to retweet, so on and so forth. It’s pretty straight forward and yet, utterly damn confusing. Such is the nature of the Internet and these newfangled communication channels.

And, as far as I can tell, it hasn’t pulled any traffic toward this utterly anonymous blog. Of course there are people who would say blogging is dead. They might be right, but I’ve always considered myself sort of a “long form” writer. I don’t really see limiting myself to just 140 characters, as fun of a challenge as it has been. It’s the same reason I don’t really do short stories. I have too much to say. Also, I find them to be very challenging. So much to say with so little space. They always feel unfinished to me. That may have something to do more so with my skills as a writer (or lack thereof) than anything else.

But, Twitter is the place to be, so I hear. So, I guess I’ll be sticking around for awhile. Until the next big thing.