I am Jack’s scattered priorities and conflicting desires

129236229_39731ca977A growing community of writers is participating in an online experiment in crowdsourcing fiction. It’s called #fridayflash, and it can be found via Twitter, Facebook, or by directly visiting participating writer’s blogs. A new #fridayflash happens every Friday, as figured locally, though some folks do post soon after midnight New Zealand time.

The idea behind #fridayflash is to get eyeballs on stories—to build that proverbial ‘platform.’ Writers use the power of social networking to gain followers, name recognition, and most importantly, a loyal readership. It seems to be working. From discussions I’ve had with several regular participants most have experienced double (or better) the number of Friday visits and increased blog readership overall. Ah, sweet success. End of story. Right? Not quite.

I am a writer.

That’s an important thing to remind myself now and again because I often take it for granted, or outright forget it, as the actual doing of the thing, actually writing, is something I have so little time for most days. While I do consider the blogging I do at loudpoet.com writing, it’s akin to taking the stairs instead of the elevator and calling it exercise. While it keeps the blood flowing and the muscles from atrophying, it’s not going to result in a six-pack!

On a normal day, between work and family, I do most of my blogging late at night or first thing in the morning, enough time to crank out a couple of posts each week about whatever publishing or marketing topic is on my mind at the moment, but I’ll never be one of those ambitious bloggers who can post something every day because I’m not a fan of repeating and remixing myself just to build and sustain a steady traffic flow. I believe in speaking when you have something worthwhile to say, and the linkbait strategy of provocation for the sake of provocation, or worse, the pretense of conversation — “What do you think?” — has never been appealing to me.

I had the same attitude during my time in the poetry slam scene, too, which is why after a couple of years of averaging a few new poems every month, I became increasingly known as a curator and host, to the point that there were newcomers to the scene after 2003 who had no idea I actually ever wrote anything myself.

Funny thing is my attitude contradicts all of the blogging I’ve done about writers needing to market themselves, but I’ve always been terrible about taking my own advice!

I am a writer, though, and I’ve starting getting the bug again to carve out some time for my own writing, to get “back” to fiction and actually start writing “that book”. I say “back” because while fiction has always been my goal, poetry and non-fiction have always come much easier to me, both for the shorter attention span required to finish and the ability to put it out there and get an immediate reaction. Both can be driven purely by passion and inspiration, but fiction also requires equal doses of commitment and self-discipline, not to mention time.

I turned 40 years old 10 days ago, though, and the idea of not writing “that book” until some mythical retirement age, or the kids go to college, isn’t the least bit appealing, so I need to find the time and the only way I’m going to be able to do that is by stealing it from something else or sleeping even less than I do now. More likely, it will be the typical combination of the two.

I’m setting a goal of participating in NaNoWriMo again this year — my 3rd attempt; 15k words in 2004 is my personal best — and as a lead-in, I’m going to start participating in #fridayflash as often as possible, posting my efforts here.

I’m not sure yet what’s going to give — Spindle? Free Verse? Twitter? Sleep? — but something will have to and something WILL have to because you can only call yourself a writer for so long without actually writing anything before you’re just lying to yourself.

And if you’re going to be a liar, you might as be one who tells good stories, right?

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