I may not rock in the treetops all day long, hopping and bopping and singing my song... but I do tweet. Social networking, the modern day authors new nightmare. When I first decided to concentrate on being an full-time author, I had now idea what I was letting myself in for. Ignorance is bliss doesn't really cover what I've discovered, but it goes a long way to explaining it. Once my first manuscript was completed, I went on the biggest learning curve of my life. In olden days, or at least my idea of them, authors wrote a book, got published, did a few book signings & interviews, then went back to their cave to write something else. I realise it's probably an incorrect notion or simplistic view of the olden day, but movies are really all I have to go on. I should probably add that if you were a crime or suspense writer, in between the signing and writing, you probably solved a few crimes or mysteries along the way, rescued a damsel or two and saved at least one city from destruction.
But I digress...
Once my manuscript was complete, I started to contemplate getting published. I know, it probably wasn't the best way to do things. I should have actively sought a book deal when the story was in plot form, but why organise something when I didn't even know if my ADD brain would even finish the manuscript. After all, I have a pile of them. Incomplete and dusty pages of dribble from pre-computer days, along with the mess of neglected archived files on mass storage devises, collecting cobwebs in their own techie kind of way.
But again, I digress...
So, while trolling publishers and investigating the how-too's and where-for's of the modern day literary world, I discovered the unthinkable. There is a monster preying on the lives of the modern day writer. Whether your published or not, the shadow of the creature lurks, tracking your every move. It's tentacles slowly reach for you, attempting to invade your soul. The beast's mystical powers of deception lull your once alert sense of foreboding, allow him to caress you and draw you closer. Now your within striking distance, your jugular exposed. Fangs pierce your skin, injecting a venom that targets your mind, eroding your creativity and encouraging you to seek distraction within the monsters arms. Once taken into the monsters embrace it is hard to break free, sharp talons pierce your body, clawing toward your heart. If the creature obtains your heart, it's all over, you are lost. You become enslaved. Trying to break free causes pain, you must obey the beast, seek solace, submit to its ever controlling will. You have become ensnared in the social networking world and your life will never be the same again.
I hear you all scoffing... Yeah, right! Crazy woman! But deep inside you know I'm telling the truth.
I started my dance with the monster about six months ago. A lot of the publishers I approached insisted authors have an Internet presence. Whether you're published or not, you need an online profile. Personal marketing gone made, attract readers for a book that isn't yet accepted for publication. Realising the fight to avoid said Internet exploitation was a losing battle, I conceded defeat and opened my google home page. How do you build an Internet presence? I felt the dark shadow drift over me, a chill quivered along my spine, the caress of something near my ankle caught my attention and I looked down. The tentacle of the god of knowledge encircled my ankle and wound it's way around my shin. Of course, you allow the beast to approach.
I already had a facebook profile, it was amusing at times. I posted stupid things and made the odd comment on friend's walls. I didn't mind going on there every so often, seeing what my real and pretend facebook friends were doing. I did however, recognise it for the time waster it was. So now, in order to look more appealing to prospective publishers I had to revisit not only facebook, but other sites I previously chose to ignore. My first step was to create a facebook page to highlight my work. It took me a nearly a day to set up. By the time I had filled in all the information, chosen pictures, sent invites, and read all the disclosure statements, I had wasted more time than I anticipated. I slowly started getting people to like the page...sloowwwly. Deciding I must be doing something wrong, I mean, why didn't I have a million followers in a week, I looked at what else I could do. A tentacle, the god of inspiration, wrapped around my left leg. Genius....I'll write a blog. Time rolled by, a few days in fact. I had to find the blog site that suited me, then design the blog page. Again, more pictures, more info about me, my work... blah blah blah. The first blog post finally went live. Hallelujah! Praise the tentacle god of inspiration.
Eight weeks later, after posting on facebook, writing blogs, and sharing the blog to my facebook wall I had the strange feeling I should be doing more. There was a caress on my back, another tickle of inspiration as the tentacle god of seduction encircled my waist. I needed more social networking hits, more traffic to the blog, more facebook friends liking my page. I need to do more, to get more. Twitter, everyone talks about twitter. Sign up, write the profile, follow people, encourage people to follow me... more, more, more. Tweet this and tweet that. Link twitter to facebook, facebook to twitter, send the blog post to both. Now I'm getting the hang of self promotion. Now I'm getting word out about me. Now I'm connecting. The first offer of a contract, made me cry with relief. The second contract had me dancing around the house. Dancing hand in tentacle with monster, allowing the mystical powers of deception to fill my senses. Must tweet, post, blog. announce to the world I'm going to be published. When the email arrived asking for my website address I panicked. Then I felt the beast's warm breath on my neck, deception whispered in my ear. Its' easy, design a website now. A week later my website went live. Must tweet, post, blog, tell the world I have a website. The monsters tentacles pulsed around me, deception lulled me into a quiet satisfaction that I was doing everything as I should, I relaxed.
When the intervention came I tried to deny it. The lady of the industrial city didn't hold back her concern.
"If you can write the first book in four months, how is it you've only written two chapters of the second book in the last six months. You aren't going to make a living on one novel. When was the last time your worked on the book? You do need to write you know, isn't that what your supposed to be...a writer."
I write. I write every day! I tweet, I post, I comment, I chat, I blog... I WRITE! At the periphery of my vision I saw a man. He was pale, thin, the tone of his muscles less defined. He'd was dejected, alone, obviously neglected...it was Steve, my hero from the second manuscript. What had I done?
Suddenly the hot breath on my throat annoyed me. The tentacles of seduction, inspiration and knowledge, tightened painfully. I turned to stare into the monster's eyes. Deception radiated toward me, he was eyeing the pulse at my throat, lips snarled back to expose fang dripping with venom. OMG, I write social networking waffle everyday. I flung my fists at the beast chest, I struggled. I screamed out to Steve, his gaze lifted, and he smiled. I held out my hand and he rushed toward me, prying the tentacles from my body with his bare hands. Work with me, his unspoken message invaded my mind, allowing me time to think clearly. I imagined a sword, fire licking at it's chiseled blade, chains empowered with magic to secure any mythical beast who threatened the weak. Steve took up the weaponry and stuck at the beast. Tentacles lacerated, I fell to the ground. He swung the chain. Fangs shattered, before it's mouth was bound, tightly shut. Steve encircled the beast's body with he remain chain, tentacles strapped to it's body, legs shackled...immobilised.
Steve and I embraced, he administered a healing salve to my wounds and we walked away, together. But what of the beast. Steve explained I needed to keep him, a bound reminder of distractions that lay in wait, taking my focus off the prize. The monster quickly shrank in size, he sits on my desk, approaching my keyboard twice a day at the times I designate. He whimpers and looks at me forlornly until I allow him to feed. We visit the social networking site together, no more than an hour or two a day. So far the existence is a happy one. Steve and I have resumed work, his strength regained, his presence within my mind now firm and, as always, protective. I am once again the master of my own destiny...and Mistress to a little shackled beast who wobbles around my desk complaining the chains are too tight.