If that doesn’t make you nervous, it should.
I don’t talk about writing because I’m not writing. Also, I’ve become one of those writers who generally feels that talking about writing is boring as shit. Actually, through the years, I’ve laughed during a lot more conversations about shit than about writing. But I digress.
Certainly I think about writing. The other day, while I was in my car, I heard a song that reminded me of a character in my first (unpublished) novel. I thought of him all the way home, and sporadically a few times afterward.
Which brings me to another subject boring to many of us: other people’s dreams. I guess because he stayed at the edges of my waking thoughts, this morning just before I woke up, he and four other of those characters came to me as if to show me how their lives had turned out after the final page I typed (and edited) so many years ago. It was lovely and comforting to see them, to think of their lives as they continued somewhere deep in my subconscious.
I miss them all.
Photo Friday has changed their site. I’ve done 515 Photo Friday posts; my first one was July 14, 2006. Sometimes Photo Friday hasn’t posted new challenges–usually around holidays, and most recently, as they’ve revamped their site. But I don’t think I’ve missed a challenge in all that time, not even when I went on the occasional posting hiatus. I tried to follow every theme they used, no matter what a stretch I had to make between a photo and a theme.
I don’t know where I first saw Photo Friday. I’m sure it was on someone’s blog. I know several of my other blogging friends did Photo Fridays, too, but only one or two still do, and not always consistently. Shit, for that matter, who’s still blogging? I’m barely here other than Fridays and Sundays.
The reason I began blogging was because I enjoyed other people’s blogs. Tim started a LiveJournal and I liked it, so I started one, too. That was in late 2004. In time, I realized what my other writer friends knew–keeping an online journal or blog was PUBLICITY for what we published. And readers could find us on our blogs and interact with us in a way that rarely happened in the old snail mail days. I still have friends I made via blogging. I also met some people who are with good reason not friends. It’s a weird world out there.
I migrated from LJ to a WordPress blog in April of 2011 because I already owned beckycochrane.com and didn’t have anything to put there, not having published a novel since 2009. I figured I might as well use it as my blogging platform. In time, I stopped talking politics because that became too mean and no fun. After even more time, I wrote only occasionally. Facebook and Twitter and Instagram pretty much killed blogs. Who wants to read some longass post from a stranger when you can read 140 characters from tons of strangers. After all, didn’t the Bell Companies–and by that, I mean Southern, Western, Mountain, etc. Bell who later became AT&T–teach us that a romantic story or a sentimental celebration among aging parents and their children or a girl’s idol worship of her big brother could be conveyed in 30 to 60 seconds? Who needs movies? Or even half-hour sitcoms? Those phone commercials were the forerunner of Twitter.
I doggedly blogged even when almost everyone I knew stopped because I WASN’T writing novels. The blog became a creative outlet for my photographs, my paintings, my magnetic poetry, my nostalgia, my doll fashions. When Rescued Pets Movement began to consume my time–and you have no idea how much time that is, but all the people I never call or write or meet for lunch or email or see or travel to see or send birthday cards to: THEY know–the only things I was sure I’d make time for were those Photo Friday and Button Sunday posts. Even so, I linked to them on FB and people would comment there and never here, so my traffic must be pretty slim compared to the number of readers in blogging days of yore. A “like” button on FB is easy, and a comment there is mostly private since almost all my FB posts are friends and family only. This blog remains public, and though the dozens of comments from the old days are now only a few comments here and there, I still read them with the same interest and delight because connecting here continues to feel more genuine than on all those other quick and easy social media sites. This is one-to-one time between me and YOU, who still reads and comments. We’re not just one of a long line of tweets or FB posts or instagram photos. For a moment, we meet, just you and me, because we both want to be HERE, not just two voices lost in a cacophony of more voices than most of us, or at least I, care to hear at one time.
And Photo Friday–well, honestly, I started participating because by making the photos public in my otherwise mostly private Flickr account, and by posting them to the Photo Friday site, I could drive more traffic to the blog and therefore expose the Timothy James Beck novels and the edited anthologies and my own novels to a wider audience.
But now, as I say, Photo Friday has changed. I’ve been trying to figure out its new design, and as best I can tell, it allows us a better view of all the photos submitted on the actual site rather than clicking on the photographers’ links and going to their websites. In other words, Photo Friday has joined the quick and easy view it on your phone or tablet generation, no need to go to all those other places to see photos anymore. YAY!
Except…not yay. Because I liked clicking on those links and never knowing what I might see. A brilliant photographer from some country whose name I couldn’t pronounce? A hobby photographer who wrote really engaging stories about her crazy friends? By going to those contributors’ blogs or journals or websites, I have discovered whole new worlds that intrigued or entertained or dismayed or educated me.
And I, who am not a brilliant photographer and don’t pretend to be, am supposed to upload my photos there to be eclipsed by many far superior photos, and there’ll be no more visits from people who came to see one photo and, maybe intrigued by my tags, poked around and found other things that interested them, or that we had in common or–hey, you wrote BOOKS? Real books on paper that were sold in bookstores? I’m going to order one right now!
Anyway, this has all been WAY more than 140 characters, and thank you if you read this far as it means you are a rare and wondrous creature who still has an attention span and I probably love you more than Charlie the Unicorn. If I stop doing the Photo Friday challenges, I’ll still do something. I actually have a list in the notes app on my phone of what people told me they wanted me to blog about. It’s from July 17, 2010, and it makes me smile when I scroll down that far and discover it again.
YOU make me smile. Thank you for still reading here. I still love reading your thoughts.
Ha! Nothing like starting the week with a literary joke. It hasn’t been long since I last reread this, so maybe it’s time to revisit an old friend this way.
In my “spare time.”
Posted this on FB, and couldn’t resist returning to post it here. Mr. Darcy–SWOON.
As part of the great purge of paperwork, I’ve found things I didn’t know I had but am so glad I kept. This photo shows two letters from friends. Back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, I took on the task of writing epic, glitzy novels–I’m sure there were two, I think I finished the third one–that followed a group of people through a few decades. It doesn’t matter to me that those novels will never be published because 1. I was writing way outside my knowledge base, as I knew then and know now, and 2. They were insanely long and therefore unpublishable. (In fact, I tried to split the first one into two novels, and they were still unpublishable and also I didn’t like them so much anymore.)
What does matter is that writing them helped me learn to pace, plot, develop characters, and possibly how NOT to write dialogue. =) And more importantly, they weren’t just beginnings. They were finished, and proofed, and revised and rewritten. If you think it’s near-impossible to start writing something, clearly you’ve never tried to finish writing something.
What also matters is that I conquered years of self-doubt and negative voices (my own as well as those belonging to others) and found the courage to let someone who wasn’t Tom or Lynne read them. Lynne had been instrumental in helping me develop those characters and storylines, and Tom was someone who didn’t read anything like these books but was willing to read mine. To step outside the safety of these two readers was terrifying–and that isn’t an exaggeration. The day I gave the first manuscript to Amy to read, she wasn’t even home yet before I left a message on her machine (remember answering machines?): “I changed my mind. PLEASE don’t read it!” Only she didn’t go home, she went to her boyfriend’s house, I think, and had already begun reading it before she had a chance to hear the message.
Another friend, someone I met through Lynne, also named Lynn, loved to read and wanted to read my manuscripts. Since I’d already taken the plunge with Amy, I gave Lynn a copy, too.
In the end, they both enjoyed that first novel. I’d remembered that their comments were kind and encouraging, and as I was going through old papers and found these letters they wrote, I was grateful once more for their time and thoughtfulness.
I tell writers all the time that it’s vital to develop a thick hide. If you let every criticism, naysayer, and negative review get to you, you’ll poison your will to write. Likewise, if you share your writing with only your friends or people who won’t challenge you, you’re denying yourself a chance to grow as a writer.
But it’s likely you’ll never share anything you’ve created if someone along the way doesn’t tell you to go for it. Doesn’t say, “I like this!” Doesn’t fan that little flicker into a flame of passionate commitment to create. I still love for a reader to say, “I like this!”–and I remember each person who was willing to say it and who told me I was a writer long before I felt I had the right to call myself one.
This is going to be meta, I guess, but what made me happy today was getting up to date on several different projects of one type or another. They included updating my Tumblr account. I’d begun putting these #100happydays posts there with that hashtag, but I was, oh, about 43 behind. All caught up now!
This is always a touchy subject with me, because Aries are known as idea people and great starters but poor finishers. I’ve been disproving that theory for a couple of decades, but it’s still a criticism that stings because it contains a stupid grain of truth.
For example, tonight I talked to Marika on the phone and told her an idea I’ve been kicking around for a novel.
“WRITE IT!” she demanded.
“Oh…I had the idea…why don’t you write it?” I suggested.
Aries are also great delegators.
Today I was working on this for a different website. I don’t think about the books from 2001 to 2009 very often, but I realized as I was looking at the covers how many great memories I have–conversations that led to certain writing, collaborating with other writers, getting reactions from my first critical readers, going over galleys, holding each actual book for the first time, and just the sheer joy of creating.
Kind of makes me want to do it again.
Happy today to get a photo of this house from a former hometown–where one of my works in (very slow) progress is set.
Is this good news? Who knows. I’ve had a novel (four, really, but I’m speaking only of this one) rumbling around in my brain for a long time. This morning I woke up and realized I could never get started because I killed the wrong person before the novel begins. Now that I’ve changed my mind about who’s dead, I suddenly have an entirely different novel–maybe one that I’ll actually write instead of just think about.
After getting a recommendation from Rhonda, Jef With One F at Houston Press put The Deal in at number ten on Ten Best Novels Set in Houston. And I didn’t know a thing about it until Marika mentioned it. I have good friends.
It’s gratifying to see a nod to a novel in which Tim and I enjoyed celebrating Houston. Thank you!