Haiku and a bag of Fritos

haiku, fritos, valentines dayLast night, in a fit of oh-no-Valentines-Day-is-coming, I went online to the font of all DIY wisdom, Pinterest, to see if there are any new ideas for Valentines Day floating around the Internet. And you know what? I’ve discovered that the crafts that girls used to make for their boyfriends in high school are alive and well among grown women. I’m talking about personalized scrapbooks, jars of reasons why you love him, handmade photo frames.

Forgive me ladies. I know handmade is better than store-bought, and I know it’s the thought that counts, but I just don’t buy that any man (or any person, really) would want any of those things.

So then I was curious. I went over to Google to see what guys were saying women want for Valentine’s Day. I think the gifts for ladies have been pretty clearly laid out by Hallmark and similar companies, but I was curious to see what the guys said.

On a couple of lists I read? “Amp up your usual hangouts” (this appeared to be code for do nothing differently than you would normally do) and “spend the day in bed.” Fascinating.

I really think the Askmen.com gentlemen and the ladies at Pinterest should be taking each others’ V-day suggestions. There might be fewer lackluster Valentine’s Days in the world.

I gave up and went over to Twitter. Scrolling down my feed, I came across this tweet from musician Amanda Palmer.

Palmer’s tweet gets me right where I live because that sort of unapologetic, idealistic declaration is the sort of thing I feel in my soul. If I were able to reshape the world*, I would leave Valentines Day out, because for me romance doesn’t look like pink and red hearts, because companies are capitalizing on our affections and because there are a lot of people who are already lonely and don’t need Valentine’s Day to make them feel worse.

But here’s the thing – I still celebrate it.

I guess I do it because it’s expected and there is some social pressure, but that’s not the whole reason. On the one hand, I do think it’s an example of capitalism on steroids, as Christmas is. On the other, I think there’s something worthwhile underneath the avalanche of plastic pink hearts and cheap chocolates.

Because I was curious about how other people felt about the holiday, I asked people on my Facebook page how they felt. I got a range of answers – some people love V-day, some people celebrate grudgingly – but mostly I was surprised by how many people’s responses fell into a gray area. Many people celebrate in a small non-commercial way, with a special meal or with parents, children and students. One commenter wrote that’s good to celebrate love with her family. Some people celebrate alone, and cheerfully, with heart-shaped Krispy Kreme donuts. (Jealous!)

A couple of people wrote that celebration is okay, but that cherishing a relationship year-round is more important.
“It’s awfully easy to make the romantic gesture, it’s much harder to maintain a consistent kindness,” commented writer Elizabeth Hilts.

And they are all correct. Maybe that’s why I can’t pull a Palmer and leave the holiday alone for good. Because Valentine’s Day exists, and it’s nice to celebrate love in a small way, even if it’s far more important to celebrate love year-round. I’d love to get some more input on this, if anyone wants to comment below.

Anyhow, unlike Palmer, we are celebrating this year although not in a Pinterest or Askmen.com kind of way. Not that I bought anything with a red or pink heart on it, either. Instead I’m falling back on my tried and true plan for Valentine’s Day, one which has gotten me through many a V-day: a haiku and a bag of Fritos.

It’s much less effort than a scrapbook and he seems to like it. And I’m willing to bet that when I wake up tomorrow, he’ll be there holding out his standard Valentine’s Day offering: breakfast with a side of haiku.

*Actually I think the only people served by this holiday are people who have been dating for less than three months. Because that’s when Valentine’s Day is appropriate, when a person is wracked by endorphins, infatuation and insecurity. If I reshaped the world I would institute mandatory Valentine’s Days for every couple on their three-month anniversary. 

Being a Pinteresting author.

It’s taken me a while to embrace Pinterest, but I’m finally using it, and using it as an author, which is something I didn’t think I’d be able to do.

But it appears to be working.

I have three boards up right now. The one I’m proudest of is a Beware the Hawk board. Posted on that board, in no particular order, are photos of some of the locations that inspired Beware the Hawk, captioned with scenes from the book. It makes for sort of grown-up picture book experience, actually. This is closest I will get, I’ve realized, to having my own Pottermore.

I’ve had a Pinterest account for a while. I do this with most new social networks. I sign up, get confused by them and then, about six months later, figure out how to use them. It happened with Twitter. It happened with Google +.* Then it happened with Pinterest.

The crux of my Pinterest problem was this: How does one use the site as an author? Writers work with words and Pinterest is a visual medium. Most of the people I know on Pinterest are pinning craft ideas, or fashion or food or those mini-inspirational posters that get posted as memes on Facebook.

I tried a couple of different things. I had one board devoted to a novel I’m working on – the board contained images that inspire me, but it gave away too much of the plot, and you can’t make pinboards private, so I deleted it. I had one devoted to local news, but that didn’t work well because I didn’t update it daily.

Then I read an interview with the incredible Jane Friedman, and she mentioned Pinterest in passing – essentially she said that authors need to have fun with new tools in order to see if those tools work for them – and I started thinking that maybe using photos of the places I was visiting when I wrote Beware the Hawk might make a good board.

But I can’t pin some things, like characters, because they’re made up. If anyone has drawn or wants to draw my characters (they can be doodled on the backs of napkins; I don’t care) I would love to pin illustrations of my characters to a board. **

I have two other writing-related boards. One is titled Authors I’d like to have a drink with.  It’s just that. Photos of authors, with a paragraph about the drink we would share. The other, I hope is more tantalizing. It’s called What about the sequel? No one’s making any promises here, kids, but say I was thinking of putting together a sequel, these images might be vaguely inspirational to me. They will be vague, but I’m hoping this might be a sort of game. Can you guess what I’m working on?

So that’s it, really. This is how I’m trying to use Pinterest as an author. I’ll let you know how it works. Or I’ll see you on the boards.

*If I’m honest, I’m still figuring out G+.

**I’m not offering payment here or claiming ownership of anyone’s art. All I’m offering is the warm fuzzy feeling of knowing that I’m promoting and praising your artwork on a Pinterest board.