9th April 2015
When I sit down to write, one of three things happen:
- Nothing. Because I have come to the blank page with no particular idea in mind. In which case I wait until something, anything, pops up and I grab it and go along for the ride.
- I have been mulling something over for a couple of days and suddenly I get that particular feeling, an instinct really, that I can trust there’s enough there already that now is the moment to write about it.
- I have something in mind but when I go to my desk to explore it, it’s as though someone fires a gun into a tree full of birds and, startled, they burst out of the branches, hundreds of them, and fly off in different directions and each one is a valid idea. I used to panic when this happened. I thought I had to capture every bird or at least those that represented the best ideas. But who could tell? They were all blackbirds. So after flailing around, I’d give up and sit glumly at the desk, empty handed and empty headed. Now when the gun goes off I just catch the first bird I can and let it take me on a flight of imagination, trusting that if any of the birds that got away are relevant, they’ll come back to me.
Today is a #3 day. And, talking of birds, what’s with Twitter?
A few weeks ago I wrote that I had decided to self-publish my latest novel. To that end I hired a great team to help me strategize:
- Sarah Westcott, a superb editor/consultant www.addendum.uk.net
- David Weller (my son-in-law) who is a topnotch Digital Consultant. www.artwellguide.com
Between us we decided that it would be a good idea to increase the readership of this blog and my online visibility before making the book available as:
1. A download
2. An actual book
3. A series of podcasts
Enter Twitter and FaceBook…2 platforms I have avoided for all the reasons some of us avoid these things:
- Preconceived ideas about their worth, or lack of.
- I won’t be ‘followed’ or ‘liked’ enough… or at all!
Half an hour ago I was watering the new cherry tree, watching the hose streaming its content, the content immediately disappearing into the earth. And all the while listening to the birds twittering away. It’s a happy, nonsensical sound. Obviously they’re communicating something to each other, but who knows what? Which is rather how I felt this week when I started exploring Twitter.
What on earth is everyone communicating? And to whom? I looked at various ‘tweeters’ but the language was unintelligible to me, although the statistics seemed clear enough, if unbelievable. Really? You’re ‘following’ 2, 789 people? When do you find time to brush your teeth?
Determined to persevere, I signed up. The next day Twitter emailed me, which I thought quite quaint. Until I started scrolling down their list of recommended tweeters I should ‘follow’. Are you kidding me? Citibank? Hundreds of names floated off the screen and I had no idea who any of these people were.
Last week, before Joel had surgery and before he came down with a terrible virus, we treated ourselves to lunch at our favorite restaurant in Siena, Osteria Le Logge: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1p-MRCpzTvw A vacationing family sat at the next table; mom, dad, and two pre-adolescent kids. Dad was on his smartphone the entire time.
- What are we all doing?
- What is it we want?
- What are we afraid of missing?
- What do we think we’re gaining?
- If we are gaining something, at what price?
Look, I’m hooked on the digital world in my own way, too. I certainly never thought I’d ‘blog’. Just the word made me want to vomit. But here I am, four years later, still blogging. What do I want? Well, if I’m honest I want more readers because I feel I have something to say. But perhaps the most important questions for me are:
- What price am I willing to pay?
- When will enough ever be enough?
I’ve found a couple of answers this week, one of them being I don’t want to pay the price of ‘tweeting’. I’d rather stand in the garden listening to real birds that, although I have no idea what they’re on about, fill the air with joy.
NB. I spent an hour and half this morning surfing the web in the hopes of finding a video clip of Lucille Ball which, as I remember it, is a great metaphor for the way I felt trying to grab all those birds as they flew out of the tree. The Lucy episode features her on a TV game show. She’s shut in a glass booth and has one minute to grab as many dollar bills as she can as they come falling into the booth. Desperately grabbing at the notes as the clock ticks she ends up with about 3 bucks! If anyone is able to find this clip, please let me know. In the meantime, have a good laugh over this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8NPzLBSBzPI