Friday, February 25, 2011

A Blessing or A Curse?

We're all in this together
Ah, yes, social networking. Is it a huge time-suck or a pleasant diversion? For me it can be both. Like many writers, I started participating to get my name out there and have an Internet outlet for some promotional material. And it was a chore. Some of the forms still are for me. Twitter and I will never be compatible. But I love Facebook. (Word to the wise: Internet privacy is a myth—if you don’t want it made public, don’t put it out there. Chances are sites like Spokeo or Pipl have already published much more information about you than Facebook anyway.)
As I got used to some of these short exchanges and began to find people I honestly enjoyed, it became fun. Now I don’t pursue it so much for promotion (though there’s certainly some of that) as for the pleasure of occasional conversations with people I’ve gotten to know. Most of us gravitate toward people with whom we share interests, and there are many among the writing community. I’ve developed a sincere appreciation for some of the friends I’ve made on Facebook. The number of friends, distant cousins, and former schoolmates on there is amazing. I don’t have a huge number of friends, but I keep adding as a name or some mutual interest comes up. Time limits are essential for me. I could spend hours if I let myself.
I’m getting better with Goodreads, another one I enjoy. An avid reader, I love talking about books, hearing others’ opinions, and discovering new titles and authors. Even though books may strike us quite differently, other readers often point out things I missed or hadn’t considered. It’s enlightening. 
I belong to a few user groups or lists too, and feel that I know many of the people who post on them. They’re generous with what they’ve learned and always supportive. We share successes and . . . disappointments (I won’t say failures, because we’ll all try again). It’s nice to know there are people who understand.
How do you feel about social networking? Do you enjoy it? Can you control the amount of time you spend on it? That’s the hardest part for me. I’m in awe of those who can dash off a coherent blog in thirty minutes.

Another note on gerunds
One reason people object to gerunds may be the time factor, which is often missed in writing. The action in the main clause must be happening at the same time as the action in the introductory gerund phrase. (While the subject was) is sort of lurking in the wings. It's understood. (While she was) Running through the woods, she found a body.
The gerund phrase can’t logically be completed before the action in the main clause begins.  Crossing the room, he unlocked the door won’t work. If you add the (while he was), it’s easy to see why it doesn’t.


Judy Alter said...

I too started Facebook for name recognition but it's so much more--a way to keep in touch with everyone from my kids to distant friends. And, yes, to announce occasional writing triumphs. Twitter still baffles me, though I try. I'm not good at keeping up with GoodReads, and the number of listserves I'm on truly disturbs me--takes too me time to scroll through all those posts, let alone answer a few. That's been worrying me, and I'm thinking of opting out of some groups--like Linked In. Blogging is easy, and, sorry Ellis, but I can do it in under 30 minutes. Of course, the results may show that . . .

sharonj said...

I am still trying to figure Twitter out but I will always love FaceBook. It has given me the chance to see videos and photos almost as they happen-which is especially nice with so many family members living out of state.

I just started blogging last weekend and have already linked with several fellow writers, some published and some not. I am enjoying getting to know them through their blogs, and I love the fact that we can share our thoughts and ideas on the writing life, and that there is such a wealth of information available!

I really appreciate all the great advice out there, and it is true that social networking is a great diversion...however, I can see that some days it would be far better for me to close down all those flashing windows!
Here's the top of my computer screen right now:

Facebook (2)
The Unpredictable Muse
(10) Twitter/Home
Google Reader Notifier 12
Google Mail checker 1

But really, so far it's been a blessing to me! :)

Polly said...

I love Facebook. I have to limit the time I spend on it, though, or I'd get hooked for hours. I've followed some really interesting people, though they haven't a clue who I am. That's fine. I don't Twitter, don't blog, but I follow a few, mostly anonymously. I do think it's annoying when someone uses Facebook, and I assume Twitter, solely for me, me, me self-promotion without connecting with anyone else. Those posts get old fast and may cause more harm than good to the author. I invited my son to be my friend. He didn't answer. I guess Mom would cramp his style. That's okay. We talk a lot on the phone.

Patg said...

You don't have a choice when you want people to buy your book. Networking is a must whether you have a publisher that does some promo for you or not. Ya Just Gotta Do it.
Marketing is a state of mind, even more important after you are published than the writing state of mind.

Ellis Vidler said...

Pat, you're so right. It's a necessity these days. But I found it doesn't have to be all about promotion--it can be fun too.
Polly, I agree--all promotion makes a dull "friend."

Sharon, It's a lot to keep up with and still find time to write. But I don't think it's a choice anymore.

Judy, I have the same feelings. Somedays it's just too much. I try to spread it out, and I admit to skimming some of the lists. There aren't enough hours to keep up with all of it.

VR Barkowski said...

What networking does well is to create relationships between like minded individuals, e.g. writers. These relationships CAN be parlayed into successful book promotions. I've seen it happen, but it has nothing to do with a potential buyer reading a writer's blog, tweets, or Facebook status updates.

Networking means interconnectivity. If every blog post, tweet, or status update is BSP, that's not networking, that's ad copy. Networking is taking the time to read and respond to comments on your blog. It's about constantly seeking out new blogs, commenting and forging connections. It's about writing FB status updates that share more than your latest book release. It's tweeting about others' achievements not just your own.

I spend most of my networking time visiting new writer blogs, although I do visit FB and check in with Twitter once or twice daily. I rarely visit Yahoo Groups anymore. I needed time to write, and Groups was the casualty.

Ellis Vidler said...

Viva, it's hard to keep up with everthing and still write. I think we all have to choose where we fit best. Your blog is always interesting--you're obviously doing something right. :-)

Donnell said...

Ellis, I always learn so much from you and your blog, thank you! I'm terrible and keeping up with the social networking. I haven't gotten involved in Twitter yet, I'm still working on my gerunds!

Ellis Vidler said...

Donnell, Twitter defeats me. I have an account but I seldom look at it. Meanwhile, I'm double-checking my gerunds too. :-)

Carol-Lynn Rossel said...

Hi there Ellis!
I think this works, now.