Or What did I do with my time before?
I remember when I used to watch the television. I could join in at work with the chat about the latest drama or laughter at the contestants on the newest reality show. I would kick back on the settee with a cup of tea or glass or wine and maybe I would read a book or pick through my growing pile of weekend supplements.
At least I think that’s what I did. It’s difficult to remember those times now. Hours watching mindless stuff on the TV or dipping into a magazine feels like a guilty pleasure these days. Because I have been sucked into the shadowy and demanding world of writing.
When I finished writing my first novel I thought my work was done. I pressed save with a sigh of relief and the lightness of a job well done. I had cracked it. Finished the book finally. Now all I needed to do was some research into the right agents to send it to and keep fingers and toes firmly crossed.
I laugh now to remember. How naive I was. Having invested in taking time off work to finish the book I decided I also wanted to invest in an independent view of my work and through The Literary Consultancy sent it to Angela Clarke an editor who wrote similar kinds of books to mine and was also an ex-journalist, like me. Her report was really positive but carried words of caution in the final paragraph that it was unlikely to ever getting published in this market which is not good for debut authors. However she had some advice to maximise my chances: develop a social media profile. She suggested Twitter, follow and be followed, and begin a blog. Anything to demonstrate that I can write, can write consistently and am engaged with a ready made potential customer base. I think that was the last day I watched the tele.
I work as a Head of Communications and am responsible for the social media feeds for the company so I am not a novice, but what surprised me was the depth and breadth of people out there, professionals and people like me, just chatting away about writing and books. Advice on all the minutia of pulling a book together from how to write authentic interactions with police, to how to choose the right character name, to writing the best covering letter for agents. I leapt in with glee, with the excitement of the new girl at school who has found some friends not fully understanding that I had uncorked the bottle and the genie was out and from now on would not leave me alone.
I need to generate followers for my Twitter account. In order to do that I need to be participating, commenting, following, retweeting, sharing. The more I do the more interactions I have. Lovely. But the more I do the more I want to do. There are so many interesting blogs out there I want to read, so many people I would like to chat to within 140 characters. But I need to be at work at nine. My Twitter feed is like a famished baby starling constantly calling for more grubs.
And then there’s the blog. Once you start a blog there is no going back, a bit like joining a cult. I have to blog every week. I have to sum up the blog in 140 characters for my Twitter feed. Then I have to think up at least another three or four ways of describing it in 140 characters so I can Tweet often and at different times of the day.
Write guest blog posts someone said, probably on a blog. That’s another good way of putting yourself about a bit. So I responded to a couple of requests and was invited to post. But what’s the etiquette here? Do I send one I have already done or do I have to write a new one? I couldn’t find a blog out there to tell me so maybe that’s a future subject for me.
So my every waking minute when I am not at work or cooking dinner or washing seems to be devoted to social media. Writing my blog, reading other people’s, scrolling through Twitter, responding and retweeting. My eyesight is deteriorating as I spend all day looking at a screen and all evening on my ipad. One blog I read advised prospective authors to not even go out there with their first novel until their second is ready. When on earth am I going to find time to write that one?
But despite my spare time being sucked into this vortex, I love all this writing in its various forms. The challenges of retweeting, identifying a subject for a blog post and cracking on with it. Feeling a little spark of excitement at the retweets and favourites of my posts. I write every day now, I am thinking creatively and I am getting words down. But the biggest difference it has made to me is that now I feel like a writer who is working rather than someone with a job who would like to write.