Tag Archives: Twitter

Social Media Hiatus

It might seem a bit dramatic to post that I’m going to go on a social media hiatus, as I don’t spend a ton of time on social media to begin with–especially after I deleted all the apps off of my phone, ages ago. But I still spend enough time scrolling through Facebook and Twitter that I know I’m wasting precious time I could be using for something else. But, mainly one thing:

Writing.

I’m still not sure why, entirely, I am so apprehensive when it comes to working on my own writing. It’s been months–monthssince I’ve properly written. I have numerous books that need to be edited. So many ideas that I want to chase. After writing so much last year, hardly writing anything this year and it’s already almost June…it feels like a part of my identity is just completely gone. That I’m living a lie, somehow.

Quitting my second job has definitely freed up some time, but I’ve filled most of it with working out and cooking. Which means  I need to free up some more. I don’t want to hide behind the excuse that I don’t have enough time to write. Writing is my life. It should be priority, not something that always gets pushed aside. For now, one of the easiest solutions is lessening my social media intake; lessening the hours I spend in the evening scrolling through updates and rants.

So, apologies to anyone on Facebook or my Twitter fam. I may not be there for a while.

That doesn’t mean that I’ll be completely silent. I’ll occasionally check Facebook or Twitter. I’ll still post pictures on Instagram and my blogs will still link to both locations, so I won’t entirely ghost out. But if you need to contact me or want to chat, social media might not be the best avenue to go. In fact, I have a couple of email chains going with some friends that I adore (even if it takes me a little while to respond). So if you want to still stay in touch regularly, message me sometime this week and we can definitely get an email chain going. Otherwise, I wish everyone all the best of luck, in every aspect of life luck is needed–and perhaps, sometimes, even when it’s not.

I have some writing to do.

Cheers.

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Lessening My Social Media Intake

I’ve recently made the decision to switch phone companies, to cut my bill in half and minimize expenses as much as I can. I also got a new phone, which meant it was time to re-download the apps, put in all the contacts and generally get it in functioning order. It also allowed me, as I compared it with my old phone, to decide which apps I wanted to re-download and which I could do without.

So, without much hesitation, I didn’t download any of the main social media apps that I take part in, including Facebook and Twitter.

The reasons I did this were various, but they all support one main reason: I want a break from social media, but not a hiatus. I don’t want to stop using social media, but I want to use it less. I feel like I’ve become too attached to checking feeds or looking up notifications–and I think I’m the least attached of most of the people I know, which says something. I don’t like how, as soon as I wake up in the morning, I lay in bed and check all of my feeds. The same situation occurs before I go to bed. Or when I’m sitting in the bath. Or when I’m waiting for places to load after fast-traveling in Skyrim (though, to be fair, the load time is a bit long compared to games made for current generation consoles). Or when I’m eating or feel bored or waiting for someone. Basically, any “free” moment that I have, I’d crane my neck, my thumb would start scrolling and that is how I chose to pass the times of leisure or use as a distraction.

I also didn’t like how people hold these expectations that, if they post something on my wall or send me something, that I not only need to see it immediately, but I also need to respond immediately. Because even though I check my phone often, a lot of times I’ll leave it in the other room. Or I won’t check it while I’m busy doing something else. And I don’t like people getting angry because my response isn’t immediate. People shouldn’t expect immediate. Yet that is what the technology-driven society is moving towards, with the high-speeds, the instant results, the immediate downloads. Personally,  I don’t want those expectations.

I also noticed that, while I was writing, if I got to a lull in a sentence or even a pause in a thought, my instinct was to reach for my phone for a five minute diversion, which usually turned into ten or maybe even twenty minutes. There was nothing I “needed” to check–if there is anything that ever falls into the “need” category–yet the option was there and I usually took it. When I finally noticed that, I knew I had to figure out some way to become less attached, because interfering with my writing just can’t be an option. Yet I also really like using Facebook to stay connected with high school friends, Twitter to be surrounded by an encouraging and inspiring writing community or apps like Pinterest to sate my need to look at fanart, attractive men and nerdy stuff. I didn’t want to become totally disconnected. Just less dependent; less attached.

So this is the solution: less apps on my phone and less chance for a distraction. I kept Instagram so I could still post photos, a running app to help me stay motivated and track my progress (plus a writing app that does the same), Goodreads and WordPress. Not too shabby when I compare it to my old phone, which I had apps like QuizUp, Pinterest and Etsy, on top of social media feeds, on top of all the apps I kept. Of course, I could simply choose to check my phone less, but I know myself and the habit I’ve gotten into. Every time a notification popped up, I wanted to check it. So without the notification, without the apps, there is no temptation. And I can simply check everything later, once I’m on my laptop. Once or twice a day. Not once or twice every hour.

So friends, I’m sorry if I don’t see the adorable picture of your puppy sleeping with his tongue out immediately (though we both know I’m going to comment and freak out once I do). I’m sorry if it takes me a couple hours–or maybe even a day–to respond to an email. Sorry if your text isn’t answered five seconds after you sent it. We all know I’m a Luddite (the separate post I promised to write about that topic ages ago is still owed; like winter, it’s coming) and we all know you live one life. Personally, I could use a little less technology and a lot more living in the life I get, and not with my eyes glued down to a 4″ screen.

Cheers.


Pitching Problems…

…and no, unfortunately, this has nothing to do with baseball (though baseball season is almost officially here *soft squee*). It actually has everything to do with writing and the devilish process that is pitching a manuscript and searching for representation. I’ve went through a few rounds of querying, as I’ve mentioned before on the blog. And, like I’ve also mentioned, I’ve often grown frustrated upon receiving rejections that don’t tell me what’s wrong with my manuscript (hint: that’s all of them). Though I understand the rationale why, it leaves me at a loss. The manuscript I’ve been pitching is one that I’ve worked on for a long time. I’ve edited it countless times, almost to the point where if I edit it any more, I’m worried I’m too blinded as the creator to improve it further (thus, requiring outside eyes to help highlight the shortcomings). Without someone to tell me what’s wrong with it, I don’t know what else to do with it.

I recently started getting into Twitter and using that as a writing platform. I entered into two different contests recently: #PitchMadness and #P2P16 (Pitch to Publication). I’ve made some really amazing connections and even found a few brave souls willing to be those other pair of eyes for me, to help my manuscript improve since I don’t know how else to help the poor thing. As a self-proclaimed Luddite, I never would have imagined Twitter could have such positive results for me as a writer.

Especially because I think, through Twitter and these contests, I realized why agents reject my manuscript.

Of course, I can’t be 100% sure. It might not be the sole reason. But, finally, I’m recognizing something that I’ve always known in the back of my head yet feigned ignorance surrounding, in hopes that it wouldn’t actually matter: word count. Word Count matters a lot. Not only does each genre have a specific “cap” word count, but each age audience does as well. For example, an adult romance has different word count expectations than a middle grade contemporary. I have been pitching my manuscript as a young adult fantasy. Ready to hear the word count?

125,000 words.

News flash: that’s a helluva lot more than the majority of young adult novels, even fantasy (which tends to run higher due to world-building requirements). Even for adult novels, that is still too high. I knew this. I’ve always known this. Yet following feeds of responses from different editors and agents in both contests mentioned above, where they offer awesome advice and feedback over all the entries mentioned,  I realized a couple of things that, again, I didn’t want to recognize: agents really do care about word count and if you are drastically out of your range, they might reject you from that basis alone. Why? Because it makes you seem like an ignorant writer, i.e., ignorant of your genre and age group and market. Of course, there are exceptions regarding word count, but that brings up my next point: I’m a debut writer. And debut writers, normally, don’t get published when their first novel is 125K.

Getting slapped in the face with this–to the point that I can no longer ignore it is a fact–leaves me with a few different options of how to proceed from here. The main one? Cut down the manuscript. Like, by 25K. My stress at cutting it results from the feedback from a few previous beta readers, who claimed they all wanted more; wanted elements that I left out. With this conundrum, I wanted to slam my head against a desk. Especially because I would love to add more. There is plenty I left out, in order to “keep it short.” Ha. However, as aforementioned, I think I’ve worked with this manuscript too much to be able to see it objectively. I need new insight. Thankfully, I have a few newly acquired critique partners who just received the first three chapters today and all know my goal is to slim this monster down, without losing content. I am beyond excited to hear their thoughts. *jumps up and down*

Yet that isn’t my only option, if cutting down proves “impossible”. I have been labeling it as YA. But if I label it as NA or possibly even A (New Adult or Adult) fantasy, the word count doesn’t look as bad. Still needs some trimming, but might be able to get some people to take a risk and at least look at a partial. That’s a weird thing to consider for me. I always considered myself a YA writer. Yet, when I recently got some feedback on my query, they said they didn’t see any elements of YA within it. And when trying to come up with comparative titles in my query, I always struggled doing that, because I realized I don’t read very much YA, instead mostly adult. And the new project I’m working on, I’m labeling adult science fiction. Basically, this rambling can be summed up to this: I always considered this particular manuscript YA. If it weren’t YA, how does that change the vision of the manuscript (especially as, already having books two and three written, I would label those more adult than YA)? That is a whole new can of worms that will chalk up a lot of time on the drawing board for me. (It also signals that, if this is to remain a YA, I need to be reading more YA. Stat.)

An even further possibility is focusing on my latest project and trying to get representation there, once it is ready. Or possibly a different project even after that. Then, once I find someone and become more established (dare I say, published?), perhaps that agent or a different one would be willing to risk my lengthy project because I have a couple titles underneath my belt. Another option.

It’s weird to feel like I have so many options on where to take this particular manuscript and trilogy, after working on it for almost five years and feeling like I was almost “done.” (Though, the argument can be made that a writer’s work is never done. It simply reaches a point where it is good enough after all the work that has been put into it and ready for an audience. But editing is a never-ending process, so you eventually have to stop somewhere and be pleased where you did). Though it is disheartening to believe that so many agents won’t take a chance on me because they believe I’m wordy (which I am) or ignorant (which I’m not, but I am stubborn) or not worth the risk (because I’m new), simply because my manuscript is long. Over and over, I wish they would just let me explain the length. I have reasons. Or, better yet, just read a partial and tell me what they think of the draft. Tell me if I’m writer material and the plot is sound. Give me some sense of direction, as all of these choices now are, frankly, a bit daunting.

Unfortunately, that’s not how the real world works. And I don’t think I can ever be positive on if that truly is the reason for my rejection collection or if it is something else about my story that drives them away. Perhaps the market is overdone; the tropes are too familiar; the characters aren’t alive enough. The list is endless of what it could be. Yet I know this: trimming down the story isn’t going to hurt. And instead of just picking one of the options above, I think I’m going to mess a bunch of them together. I have some new eyes and will definitely be editing (again), but am also going to focus on this new project first, getting a full draft of it completed before the fall, to keep me creativity pumped; as well as working on my editing skills by working on my new CPs’ manuscripts, hopefully helping them improve the same way they’ll help me. I’ll probably query some adult fantasy agents and see if I get any positive responses there. Needless to say, the experience I’ve had so far this year resulting from putting myself out there as a writer has been a whirlwind, and undoubtedly informative. And despite some of the daunting tasks ahead of me, it is comforting to know that I can still do the work needed to get these stories told. Because I want them to be told. Someday.

And dammit, I’m willing to put in as much work as necessary to make sure that happens.

Cheers.

 


21st Century Rant

Hello my readers! It is been some time since I have posted, I admit, and I apologize for that (I wrote at least ten posts in my head, if that helps at all). And my “return” post is most likely going to be a controversial one, so no one can ever say that I’m not afraid to come back with a bang, eh?

So, of course, it starts with a story. A few weeks ago, I came across a video whilst perusing through Facebook; a simple, three-ish minute video that has managed to stick with me heavily since then. I have embedded here below for you, so you know what I am talking about. It is called “Can We Auto-Correct Humanity” by an artist named Prince Ea. Have you seen it? Please watch it. Please. It only takes three minutes.

Okay, now I am assuming you watched the video (if you somehow missed it or are simply trying to be rebellious and read this post without watching the video, the link is posted above; seriously, this is for you, not me; watch it), so I know you can guess what I am going to talk about now. It’s a subject that I have always had deep feelings about but am not always so vocal about it: the domination of technology, social media and cellphones.

To be short, I hate it.

But anyone who knows me knows I cannot be truly short (worded) about anything, so let me explain why. I have always been old fashioned when it comes to my choices in the world, and technology has not avoided that. My first car was a 1984 shortbed. I did not get a smart phone until my junior year of college (and even then, that was a surprise from the ‘rents). Before my smart phone, I have had only two phones prior, receiving my first cellular device at the age of 16. I have had one laptop, a proud owner of this Toshiba beast for 5 years now. My only IPod I have ever owned is six years old. I still buy CDs (sometimes). I don’t buy BlueRays. I will never own a Nook (I will save that topic for another post, because that is a rant for an entire different day ((printed books for life)). So yeah, I think you get my drift. I’m not concerned with getting the latest gadget or upgrade, and I don’t want to own an IPad, Tablet and an IPhone just to say I own one, when I already have my perfectly good (albeit slow, you dinosaur, you) laptop. Obviously I hold onto my technological devices until usually, someone forces me to give it up and get a replacement.

As I said, I got a smart phone about a year ago. And part of me was really bummed (because I had just broken my phone and I absolutely loved that Nokia), but the other part of me was kinda excited, for three reasons: A) I could now gets apps, which really meant I was excited to download QuizUp and beat everyone in my knowledge of LOTR (Top in Kansas in both August and September, btw) and Instagram, so I could bombard the world with pictures of my dog (which I still do). B) I could now check my email on my phone. And C) My messages would now show up as a conversation instead of as separate messages, which was very convenient because I normally type out mini-novellas if whoever is texting me will let me (yes, this shows you how old my phone truly was before this latest device). And of course I got other apps and lived up the smart phone life, and it was kinda cool to be able to check anything whenever I wanted, at the brush of my fingertips.

But recently, I noticed a change. Actually, last semester, I was at Applebees with some friends, waiting for food to come out. I was texting my Mom while there was no conversation directed to me, and one of my friends said, “Guys, hey, can we please put our phones in the middle of the table or something? You are all using them.” I looked from from my text and noticed that everyone at the table beside her was on their phone. So we put our phones in the middle of the table and just talked, and it was awesome. But the rest of the night, I was bothered by the fact that I had been in that group who was attached to their phone, even if it was simply texting and no app-related activities. I had never been in that group before.

Since then, I have noticed slowly that I have gotten worst. Though I still don’t understand how to work my phone half the time, I find that I check it a lot. At dinner once, another friend asked me while I was checking my phone so much — just unlocking it, glancing down at it, and then relocking it; not even using it, but constantly checking it. And I looked at her and was surprised. I had no reason. I wasn’t expecting anything or waiting for anything to happen. But the chance of something popping up was there, so I had been unconsciously checking it periodically instead of being fully invested in the conversation going on amongst my peers.

I don’t like this change. I don’t like it at all. Sure, having a smart phone is convenient and makes me easier to contact, through any of the social medias that I subscribe to, or by the simple call or text, but at the same time, it closes me off so much from the world around me. As soon as I get out of class, check the phone. Waiting for the bus or, hell, any lull or free moment in my day, my instinct now is to immediately check my phone, even though I prolly just did a few seconds earlier. Times when I would just look around at my surroundings or just be content to sit and think, are now sacrificed craning my neck, wasting brain cells checking Twitter.

There is a running joke with my coworkers and I, in that we keep a tally of how many times I say something and no one responds/hears/notices. You know what I’m talking about: that awkward situation when you’re speaking and either your audience has stopped listening or just missing it completely and you are usually left sitting there, awkward and unable to escape. Since August, my tally has reached roughly 90 times. 90 times in the span of two and a half months. And I can guarantee that over half of these have been because whomever I was talking to was preoccupied with some sort of phone or tablet or fancy gizmo. And that says a lot about our society today, I think (but I am not also so daft to think that I haven’t also been at the other end of this, as well; I’m as guilty as anyone else).

I’m not claiming that I am not thankful for how advanced we have become. Because of modern day technology, my brother can live even though his pancreas is defective. Because of modern day technology, I can text two of my best friends whom live in England for free, and stay in touch with them, whereas before, I would have lost them two years ago. Hell, because of my phone, I am able to stay in touch with all my friends from high school or my friends who live out of state. And I am not saying I want to throw all my electronics out of the window and never use them again (my PS3 was my best friend this past summer and I don’t regret a single hour wasted away living as my character Tauriel in DragonAge), but I really want to not be so attached as I am discovered I am becoming.

I joked with some friends the other day that I am going to take my kids and live in the woods without any phones and Apple products. They laughed, but then they said, “Man, how behind are they going to be?” or “Talk about that culture shock.” And it’s true. Technology is so ingrained within our culture that if I raised my kids to be completely without, I would actually be hindering them and their chances for success in the future (and the fact that we are that depended makes me so sad). But, I am also not going to buy my five year old an IPhone (hell, I might make them wait until they are at least in middle school, who knows).

The thing is, this is a problem: this dependence and attachment and this…idea that a person can only survive if their phone is always attached to them, fully charged and ready to take them away from the world that continues to live on without them, is a problem. But it is also a good thing that we can utilize and use, if we only learn how to balance it. There must be a way in which I can own a smart phone yet not feel compulsed to check it every ten seconds. There has to be a way for a person to have an account on all the trending social media sites, yet be able to resist the urge to check it for an hour whilst they are out playing catch with their neighbor. There has to be way to live with this dominating technology but not at the expense and sacrifice of imagination or nature.

I don’t have any of the answers, but I do know that I want to find that balance within my own life, so I can appreciate the life I am blessed to have more fully. I don’t want to miss anything because I am too busy checking to see what all the people that I never talk to are currently doing on Facebook. So I dunno what I am going to do, yet. I am thinking about buying a watch so I know what time it is without my phone and leaving my phone at home once a week whilst I go to class. Or perhaps dedicating an hour a week where I go eat lunch with a friend or read a book, and turn my phone off or put it away so I do not even have the temptation to check it. Eventually, I would like to limit or deactivate my social media accounts. I am not sure what I am going to do, yet. But I think having this social awareness of my developing attachment and trying to change it before it becomes irreversible is a good first step. And I dunno, maybe you wanna look and see how attached you are. Could you “survive” a day without your phone?

Cheers,

Nicole

PS: Whilst writing this post, I prolly checked my phone roughly a dozen times, just to see what was going on. So I obviously have some work to do.