Well, folks, I have some good news: I officially worked on Soultainted four days last week, spent a couple of hours on it on Sunday, and dove into a single chapter yesterday.
And honestly? It’s going well. I am enjoying it. It’s true that I’m working from an existing draft, but it needs a lot of rewriting and editing, and there are several gaps in the story that I need to fill in. But I like the direction it’s going and the way the story is shaping up. I’m sure it’ll give me fits eventually, but right now, we’re in a second honeymoon stage.
Despite our ridiculously busy schedule of late, my Muse has been sort of waking up and getting chatty again. I didn’t really set out to court her. To be honest, I haven’t had much time in recent months to devote to fiction, so it was a little tough to know exactly why she was suddenly getting chatty (aside from the usual Muse paradox that says the less time you have to indulge in art, the more the Muse will tempt you).
I think I figured it out–or figured out part of it: I haven’t been on social media much of late.
The Great Time and Creativity Suck
I’ve greatly curtailed my interaction with social media. I still use Facebook the most, but I don’t post much on my personal page. I occasionally comment on something or react to a post, but not often. As for Instagram, I never liked it. It nudges all of my personal demons awake, and I always feel really crappy when I close Instagram. Pinterest is still fine, but there’s no real interaction there (maybe that’s why it’s fine). I use it to look for recipes, basically.
Aside from my regular weekly blog posts, I haven’t posted regularly to my Facebook fan page, Instagram, or Pinterest since mid-April.
And you know what?
It’s… it’s nice.
Before mid-April, I was spending a few hours every week finding things to post about, setting up posts, and interacting with posts once they were live. It was one of my least favorite things to do every week. I absolutely dreaded it, especially when I knew I needed to set up a bunch of things in preparation for leaving town or something.
Those of you who know me know that I’ve had a very love/hate relationship with social media for a long time. I wrote about it before I went dark several years ago, and when I look back at those posts on my old blog, I realize–nothing much has changed. I still feel like engaging in social media requires me to check my humanity at the door.
So because most of this year is about balance and wellbeing and figuring out how to make the rest of my life work as a writer now that my kids are grown-ups, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want to do about social media.
I’ve decided not to go back to the heavy posting schedule. I’m not deleting my accounts, and I’ll keep pushing the blog post to Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, but I’m not going to interact much with responses on social media. (If you want to respond to me, you are always welcome to post comments here or on Substack.)
Why It’s Time
I’ve gone back and forth on this all quite a bit. Conventional wisdom says that, as an independent author, I need to be on social media to grow my audience and sell books.
But the thing is… I don’t think the conventional wisdom is very wise.
So here’s why I’m curtailing my social media use:
- Social media doesn’t sell books. I’m not even sure it grows my audience, really. My followers on all of my platforms have been basically static for years, whether I’m posting heavily or not at all.
- I’m a better person without social media. People still have to live with me. I hate how I feel when I’ve been interacting on social media. In the interest of seeking more balance and being a better human to live with, I’m going to put away habits that make me unpleasant.
- Someone, somewhere, has to start pushing back. I grow increasingly concerned about the impact social media has on our society. Aside from the security risks, there is a real human toll that occurs when people only interact online. Some of us have to say “enough.”
- I intend to start doing more person-to-person marketing. I have some ideas and plans. I want to start connecting with indie bookstores and maybe do some in-person events. I am a better person face-to-face than I am online. Yes, this is a huge stretch for me, but it’s long overdue, and I think it will be more effective than just trying to share writing memes on social media.
- The Muse is happier when I’m not using social media. As I mentioned, my Muse has been very chatty in recent weeks. I can’t help but notice that this chattiness coincides with a lack of social media. I think maybe I can hear her better when my head isn’t cluttered with social media dross.
- The most important thing is the writing. They have said for a long time that the best marketing a writer can do is write the next book, short story, novella, whatever. If I’m spending hours every week on social media, I’m not writing–for myself or for clients. So… I’m going to prioritize the writing.
Do you guys have any idea the sense of freedom that comes from letting that all go?
This is not to say I’ll never post anything on social media besides the blog posts. As I start planning other things, I may share details about those events via social media. And I may not be able to resist a writing meme now and then or a picture of the gorgeous area where I live or an acknowledgement of the furry muses who share office space with me.
But I’m done trying to make social media a cornerstone of my marketing efforts. It’s just not worth it. The time I put into it does not translate into book sales, it is a huge creative, mental, and emotional drain, and there are a limited number of hours in the day.
I think my attitude of late goes back to the whole Rhiannon-esque Menopausal Truth Teller I wrote about several months ago. The great thing about being almost 54 is that I no longer feel compelled to try the latest thing that someone on the Internet insists will sell books. I long ago quit caring what people in their teens, twenties, and even thirties think of me. I honestly don’t even care what people in other age groups think of me. At this point, the things that make me Amy are pretty set in stone, and I’m too old and tired to remodel all that.
Part of falling in love with my own writing again has to involve letting all of that striving and slavery to Internet gods go. I am who I am.
And I have run out of effs to give.
But in the best possible way.
Let’s see what trouble the Muse and I can concoct….
Next week, a review of a fairly recent science fiction book that I very much enjoyed… Have a good one, y’all.