owl in winter

owl in winter

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Importance of Social Networking

Sometimes, I feel behooved to stop and prop up a small building, in my spare time of course. Just kidding.

I've been back from the Ozarks Creative Writers' Conference in Eureka Springs, Arkansas now for ten days. So, I've had ten days to let it all gel, absorb it all, reflect. Eureka Springs in October is gorgeous. The view from my hotel room was of the woods, autumn leaves hanging heavy on the trees, dappled sunlight spotting the woods in the morning. I had a wonderful time, met amazing people. Ate far too much. But.

Conferences are social networking at the very least. They are a book contract and representation at the very most. Why is social networking important? Why pursue it?

Here is my take on the importance of social networking for the writer. As writers, we spend a lot of time in solitude. We spend a terrific amount of time in our own brains, moving all the boxes around. To stay on the cutting edge, to keep up on the industry, you simply must network. The best place to do that is not on Facebook. Facebook can help on a minor level but what I am talking about is the face to face, eye to eye, contact, the stimulation of a conference. It's the year after year recognition of "hey, it's you, how're you doing, what have you written since we last met?" I saw plenty of that at OCW. I should explain this was my first year there so nobody said that to me, but maybe next year.

You know, hunting enthusiasts hang out with other hunters. Surfers hang out with other surfers. Writers hang out with other writers. Isn't that a revelation? It's not weird. It's not ego-mania. It's simply making a connection that a writer won't make anywhere else. You will find it refreshes you, enthuses you, puts a new fire in your pen or your keyboard.

There is typically something for everyone at a writers' conference. Whether you are traditionally published (or wish to be), or self-published, into e-books, or some other publishing medium, there will be something for you to learn and absorb. You will learn invaluable information from your peers at these gatherings. And, you'll make some truly amazing friends. The downside? Well, eventually, you have to leave and go home.

Check into a writers' conference for 2012. Go, and come back refreshed and enthused about your craft.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011


My dad tells me of a time when, if you had something to discuss with someone, you simply got up on the tractor, or the horse, or got into the car if you were lucky enough to have one, and you traveled to that person and discussed your business over coffee at the kitchen table or sitting on the porch. How many deals were made under an oak tree, I wonder? How much family news was delivered at a formica table in a sunny-yellow kitchen, red-checked curtains waving in the breeze? You looked your friend in the eye in those days.

With the advent of the telephone, there was no longer any need to meet face to face. It was easy, convenient; just dial him up, have your conversation, hang up. How simple is that. It was no longer necessary to have that personal touch, to look your fellow man in the eye.

I remember reed-thin letters in envelopes with postage stamps, a voice in handwriting. Back when I could leave an unstamped envelope and eleven cents in the mailbox and the postman would affix a stamp to my missive and send it out, and then some weeks later, much to my delight, a letter would come to me from my cousin or my grandmother. Oh, those days. Yesteryear. Oh, how I miss that.

Yes, I confess. Sometimes, I long for yesteryear.

I am not a texter. I don't carry a cell phone. I would say it has been probably twenty-five years since I've recieved a handwritten letter from anyone or written one for that matter.

Aren't we missing something personal these days? Aren't we missing that special touch of humanity? Do you miss it?

What Would You Do?

Sometimes I think of the damndest things.

Monday morning, I was sitting at a stoplight, on my way to work, and an image of a suitcase came into my mind. The suitcase was one of those old, battered, brown cases with the straps and locks, cast away or maybe just lost, lying on the side of the road.


I my mind's eye, I'm stretching out a finger to touch the lock, to caress the old leather. Ah...it's unlocked! I could open it right now, see what's inside, feel its history. My pulse skips a little bit.

Would I? Should I? What would you do?

How do you relate this to your writing? What treasures are we missing because we don't open the trove lying at the side of the road?