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.

Blocked.

Recently I’ve begun to suspect that I’ve been rejected.

Someone may have blocked me on Facebook. And not just one someone, but maybe as many as five someones. Maybe even more. And it’s eating my lunch. But my real problem is not that five people may have blocked me on Facebook. I’m irritated because I’m bugged by being blocked on Facebook. You follow? No? I’ll draw a diagram. Here.

I mean, really.

Why would I care? Someone blocked me on Facebook. Big deal. This shouldn’t be a problem for me, because it isn’t a problem.

First of all, if out of 450 “friends,” five have blocked me, that’s a pretty decent rate of acceptance versus rejection. Second of all, and more importantly, I don’t interact with the suspected blockers in real life. I expect to see a couple of them at assorted reunions, probably in the very distant future. The others I may never see, ever, again.

Some of these blockages are even mutual. I can think of at least one alleged blocker whose posts I’ve had hidden for a year. It wasn’t personal; I just didn’t want to see the graphic updates about the contents of her child’s diapers. Evidently she was equally unimpressed by all my clever status updates and scintillating blog posts. And we aren’t actually friends in real life. We never were. If you look at it rationally, our Facebook break-up is a win-win. But in the self-centered, personal propaganda world of Facebook, where everyone is your “friend” and  people are unable to “dislike” your photos, updates or relationships, being blocked comes as somewhat of a shock.

Why should that be? Most of us deal with rejection in the real world all the time. We interview for, but don’t get jobs. We don’t get complimented when we think we deserve it. We say hello to people on the street and they don’t say hello back. People give us the finger in traffic. And although these daily rejections are awkward at best and painful at worst, we deal with them.

I’m 33. Like most people my age, I’ve watched friendships crumble, relationships fall apart, been passed over for promotions. As a writer, I’ve gotten good at being rejected by magazines and journals. When I worked as a journalist, I got used to people being furious at or dismissive of me. But on Facebook rejection brings me back to middle school.

“They don’t like you,”  says the little voice in my brain, the one I heard all the time when I was 12 years old. “They don’t like you and they don’t ‘like’ you.”

This voice is not my friend. It used to hear classmates laughing a few tables over in the cafeteria and convince me that those kids were laughing at me.

“I thought you were dead,” I say to the voice. “I thought I left your mangled corpse on the streets of Spain in 1999.”

“You’re talking to yourself,” says the voice. “No wonder people don’t like you. Or ‘like’ you.”

And the cycle begins anew.

So really, what’s the deal with Facebook and rejection? My only guess is that our Facebook profiles are such manicured, Photoshopped versions of who we are. We post the most attractive or amusing photos of ourselves as profile shots, or else we post pictures of the things we want to show off: our kids, our wedding photos, our pets, our flower gardens, our priceless collections of stamps or brass military buttons. Our statuses are little flags we wave for attention. Our interests are carefully edited. And when someone rejects all that, when they block you, that can seem like a rejection of your highest self.

Except it’s not. It’s a rejection of your own personal propaganda. And if that bothers you, you probably need to get over yourself. I know I do.

Why I Tweet

It seems like every time Twitter comes up in conversation, at least one person wants to know what it is and why it’s important to be Twitter-literate (Twitliterate? Twiterate?)

Why, when there are so many ways to communicate, would you join a service that allows you to write only 140 characters worth of text at a time? My husband, who is new to the Internet, has referred to it as “texting the world.” Who wants to do that?

I’ve had some doubts of my own lately. But then the last two weeks happened and I witnessed a variety of things take place on Twitter. These events ranged from the historic (the unrest in Egypt) to the adorable (watching Rupaul learn to tweet) to the personally relevant (The Association of Writers & Writing Programs conference in Washington D.C.) After all that, I’m in love with Twitter again. Continue reading