Breaking protocol

The other day my wife told me that I still don’t understand how to properly use tools like Twitter and Facebook to network with like-minded folks, in the process publicizing my writing to an ever-widening circle of “friends”.

“How many people are you following? How many blogs?”

And I ruefully had to admit that the number was pretty paltry.

“You see?  How do you expect to promote yourself or make more people want to read your books?”

She’s right, of course.  On every single count.  And I know at first glance it seems like I’m breaking a cardinal rule and not showing proper consideration for men and women who, like me, are trying to communicate the joys and sorrows inherent in the human condition. The experience of being alive, from a variety of perspectives (language, culture and geography be damned).

My problem is time.

I’m a full-time writer.  That’s what I do, seven days a week.  Seven-thirty in the morning I pour my first cup of coffee, walk upstairs to my home office and check the e-mails that have accumulated overnight. Part of my routine. By then, both my sons are stirring, getting themselves dressed, ready for school. My wife usually leaves for her job around 8:00, my lads head out about 8:40 and I’m alone in the house until mid-afternoon.

Once I finish e-mails, glance at the news, post a couple of things on LibraryThing, I fire on some music and settle down to serious business. There’s always a project on the go, work “in the pipeline”. For the past decade it’s been longer efforts, novels and novellas, and they require enormous concentration, a complete immersion in the worlds they’re portraying.

I’m at it all day, breaking for a (very) quick lunch, maybe run some errands, toss in one or two loads of laundry, satisfy myself that the bathrooms aren’t too septic.  Can’t have the people from the Center for Disease Control inspecting us again, imposing another quarantine…

Sometimes Sherron’s job takes her far afield and I have to figure out something for supper (my shepherd’s pie is particularly well-regarded). I catch up with what’s happening with my sons, find out how they’re doing at school, make sure we’re all on the same page. They’re both teenagers and their lives are a whole lot more complicated these days.

After supper, it’s back to the office, finish up for the day, wind things down, answer pressing e-mails, maybe listen to some comedy on BBC4 to help decompress. By then, it might be 8:30 or 9:00 p.m.  Shut off the computer, go downstairs, spend some time with my family, watch a movie or TV show (we only have 1 1/2 channels so we usually have to rent boxed sets or borrow them from chums).

And then it’s bedtime.

With that kind of schedule, there isn’t much of a chance to devote even half an hour to keeping up with all the Tweets and updates and latest poop that my various friends acquaintances might have posted during the course of the day.  I’m a writer, but I’m also a full-time dad and husband and my workaholic nature combined with my family obligations just doesn’t leave much wiggle room.

So…cutting to the chase:  I’m very sorry if I’m not following your blog or making an effort to reach out more through various forums and social networks.  I hope you’ll understand the constraints I’m operating under and realize there are priorities…and only a finite number of hours in the day. If it’s any consolation, I recently cancelled my weekly “StumbleUpon” recommendations because I never had time to glance at them and usually just deleted the message.

Writers write.  That’s what I do.  That’s basically all I do.  No weekends off, no holidays.  The wages are lousy, the rewards few.  I’m my own boss but can’t conceive of a harsher taskmaster.  No relief, no respite.

It’s not much of a life, I’ll warrant you, but it’s the only one I’ve got.

Sigh.

I guess I’d better get used to it.

 

“Who am I? A stranger here and always…”

William S. Burroughs, Rub Out the Word (Collected Letters 1959-74)

4 comments

  1. AndyWatchesMovies

    I’m having a hard time finding the, er, time as well. In fact, just now…I have over 70 emails from blogs I follow that I have to catch up with and read before I even write my own. It’s tough work and that isn’t even taking Facebook or Twitter into consideration.

  2. Cliff Burns

    I’d like to devote more time to reading and watching movies (I have a fantastic collection) but I run out of hours and energy. Heart-breaking, really. Maybe it’ll be different once my lads are out and on their own. We’ll see…

  3. Cliff Burns

    Or cloning? I figure I need at least five of me to achieve all I’d like to accomplish in this lifetime.

    Of course, I doubt very much if the world could manage that–one Cliff Burns is quite enough.

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