Youngblood Blog

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Those Who Do and Those Who Don’t

Monthly IWSG

Is the human brain ready to be hot-wired to the Internet?

I know a lot of Alex’s Insecure Writers—IWSG—don’t plug into the Facebook scene; perhaps consider the social network game a little too time-consuming [?], when there are queries, edits, pitches and contests to prepare for. After all, the writer’s day is never long enough, is it? And think of how many words we might punch in on the keyboard during the (lost) time it takes to tweet!

Oh, I know we can’t all be like Amanda Hocking, who seems to have written everything online; tweets incessantly, even holds meetings on Twitter, and yet still manages to churn out several e-books per year.

So it got me to thinking about this new ‘instant’ form of communication and how it affects our lives: nay, how it splits us—into expiration dates: those who do and those who don’t—and into media groups: ditto.

I did feel grossly insecure after my first attempts with Smashwords —my March self-publish post for Alex’s IWSG. MSWord not being my favorite program, and with no Apple-friendly interface on offer by that self-publisher, I felt that ancient tweak of ‘fear-in-the-forest’, that feeling of being a stranger in a totally alien landscape (I held myself back there from quoting Robert Heinlein! but give me a moment). We all go through nerves with a new communications tool. Realizing that the old ways are still in there competing with the “new”, I figured I had to find a way around my nerves, because in the world of Big Publishing, MSWord isn’t seen as the code-cluttered behemoth viewed by Macintosh-lovers; it is just the program the industry grew up around; Competitions (Dundee Book Prize, Hay House Visions Contest) assume you know how to use it; so I have learned to live with it—until the next change comes along.

Also, I was never any good with the telephone: there—I’ve said it. I somehow managed to navigate through the recent high waves of multiple-choice cell phone packages and NOT become a cell-user. True to my writerly reclusiveness, I barely answer the landline—I use my laptop for all of the stuff people used to handle on the phone—but I’m reduced to jelly inside, when offered a new iPad or iPhone to try out. I am just getting the hang of the Apple tablet, but the swiping and sweeping motions on the little iPhone still leave me stunned.

It didn’t help that in betweentimes I foolishly asked the local Apple Emporium to back up my old writerly projects: articles, magazine interviews, my non-fiction titles, history, book etc., only to discover I’d left it too late and most of my SCSI drives (eat your heart out, anyone who understands me here) were obsolete. How about that for a dip in the insecurity pool?

Believe me, I know how boring this sounds to people who text and communicate all the time with friends and family; I even found myself irritated with poor old Ken Carey, author of all-time bestseller ‘Return of the Bird Tribes’ (Harper, 1991) who had such a hard time setting up his new website—twenty years after he published his seminal works in the 1980s-1990s—that his first months’ comments were almost exclusively on whether posts got ‘thru’ or not. Then his struggles reminded me of the early internet years, where netiquette (no CAPS SHOUTING, personal anonymity) seemed more important than getting the message across; and I became more compassionate towards him and his/my generation.

Bottom line: much of what is happening now—people deleting their Facebook profiles for fear of the newly-publicly-owned-and-listed company selling their private information—is part of yet another ongoing trend which is pulling us closer to our Omega Point, the symbiosis of man and machine, foretold by Terence McKenna before he died in 2000.

“The Universe is an evolving system of habits”
Terence McKenna

So, our comfort zone may move—not a lot; habitual patterns take time to form—but in five years we shall, it seems, be communicating exclusively electronically (and perhaps silently), and I suspect that, sadly, it will also separate the men from the boys; oh how I hate to be ageist: but there will be those that do and those that (er, teach) don’t. And I suspect I may even fall into the latter category, unless I get my mind speedily around the concept of cells, GPS, bluetooth(s) and the need for instant (communicative) gratification.

Jubilee recalls ancient tradition: instant media coverage captures the last of the dinosaurs in world imagination

Or should I lay aside my insecurity and look at it another way? perhaps I already qualify. I am certainly old; not as aged as HM the Queen, 86, or Prince Philip, 90; but it is a miracle I’ve kept pace with electronica through the last decade’s changes; I love my laptop and, as a writer, I might just make it through the next series of electronic hoops and into the Era of Bionic Man; because, wait for it, the writer/author has always been psyched up to be patient. Big House publishing is not going to catch on to this nouvelle vague and become electronic overnight: some publishers still do not accept MSS, except through the post. I can certainly learn to live without Facebook and Twitter. And, because McKenna was adamant that the Universe has purpose towards hyper-complexification, or advanced organization, and is speeding up all the time; I might even be ahead of the game, outlive the Mac-PC incompatibility, and see my internet tinkering as a bonus, rather than a liability. When they wheel out the dinosaurs and number off according to bionic accoutrements, I might still qualify: I already have wifi, have halved the size of computing screen and diminished my keyboard by one third. My hearing aid [don’t ask: 1960s rock music too close to the speakers] already serves as bluetooth; so all I need is a bionic implant to wire me to the ethers, and I’ll be set for 2020.

Did I mention age as my main insecurity? Woody Allen had a different idea:

“I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work; I want to achieve immortality through not-dying”
Woody Allen

And, thank you again, Alex, for being such a role-model, and for letting me ramble. I know your book launch was a success. Your CassaStorm will be, too.
©2012 Marian Youngblood

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June 6, 2012 Posted by | authors, blogging, culture, publishing, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Social Networking: Pause before Entry…

Monthly IWSG Linky-thingie
As some of you know, I failed to support our fearless leader–and several of his extremely potent|writerly| minions during the April A-Z marathon, for reasons of edit-mania. Now, at least, I can bring my head up for air (edits complete, MS returned to publisher for ?more edits?) and take a look around. But we know that the Universe never likes to see a busy person unbusy, and so, almost as soon as I divested one multi-POV project, another surfaced.

Most of us respond to call for help... ...p.s. so you don't all have nightmares: a kindly passerby DID raise the drain brander, and rescued four pairs of webbed feet from the tumbling waters...

The point is: I have never been able to turn down a genuine request for help; and because the project involves writing and publishing, I am/was drawn in irrevocably; isn’t it always the way? So perhaps my friend will forgive me if I share here some of her misgivings; and who knows, some of you may be able to help her decide.

My friend is a fellow Scot exiled in Japan where she founded, teaches and supports an energy healing center: with its main adherents coming to a peaceful country setting to learn how to heal themselves, and returning home equipped to continue the process. Alongside this laudable enterprise, she mistressminds an indy publishing house, with titles simultaneously appearing in both English and Japanese.

I am not exaggerating when I say their output is prolific, but, probably–honestly–not world-shattering, when compared with the Big Five. But I think I am preaching to the congregation when I say that most people reading this are big supporters of Indy Publishers because, as writers, we believe we have gone it alone for so long; along come brave-new-worlders bringing publishing to a more human level (less hype, more oomph); and we are delighted that the indy field is opening out to include more individuals–like us. It seems not only logical, but the most writer-friendly way to go.

What is the problem, you ask?

Well, maybe not a problem, but my friend has–in the eighteen years she has been running the initiative–never dipped into social media. I know; you think that’s funny. But that is seriously the position where she now finds herself.

I immediately thought of Alex’s great innovation: the IWSG; but then realized she is probably too shy to plunge in straight off; so I hinted that getting her own personal blog out there was a priority; because currently, she runs production, classes, editing and publishing under the corporate banner, mystically calling herself CEO–that’s her acronym for Chief Energy Officer!! And she’s doing that. But she believes her social media skills are nil. In fact, I believe she could knock the socks off any of us venturing to publish in the Japanese market, but that’s not the point.

Social media has, after all, the ability to link up personalities from pretty diverse backgrounds...

Trying to look with fresh eyes at what we–in the West–consider the norm: bloghops, blogtours, Alex’s amazing 150-blogs-a-day visits [we forgive you for taking time for yourself, Alex; you deserve it; we’ll still be here when you come back]; I realized it can’t be easy to plunge in on the Facebook, Twitter, Google+, what-have-you circuit. So, while she doesn’t know I’m writing this, I feel sure that when she discovers the multitude of diverse author/publishers in our IWSGroup, she might forgive me for whispering the word around.

I felt rather daunted myself when I first signed on with Alex–did you know that you guys are almost ninety-percent Blogger bloggers? repetition intentional, as I am a WordPress person, and linky-lists between the two are non-user-friendly. I’m not complaining; it is what it is. But it did make me look through the eyes of a child at the world we now take so for granted. Many of us have caught the blogging bug and communications craze and mastered the art (sortof) in under a decade. And, some of us are really in an age bracket where we didn’t think we could… but that tale for another time…

I believe it's her move...

I told her some of us are NOT on Facebook, don’t tweet, and succeed in being prolific, only after hours of a dedicated cave-like existence, or a week of sleepless nights. I hope she got the idea. She signed on for G+ but not FB; LinkedIn, but not MySpace (I wasn’t advocating that she did!). And I feel sure she will fit right in here, when/if she finally finds out I told you all this behind her back.

That said, may I wish all my fellow bloggers on Alex’s growing and ever-fruitful linky-list a brilliant month of May and happy warm-up for great ideas in the summer of 2012.
@2012May Marian Youngblood

May 2, 2012 Posted by | authors, blogging, publishing, writing | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments