For the first time in I don’t know how long, I had three days off in a row. Three days off with no other obligations. Under normal conditions, I would have been working those days. A freak winter storm blew through here and gave me the adult equivalent of a Snow Day–as well as a long weekend. Power outages at work meant I had to cancel appointments. Conflicting schedules meant that I had no weekend plans for a change. The horse and dog both were recovering from injuries–which meant no temptations into long meandering walks in the woods or a frigid couple of hours riding around in circles in the indoor arena.
I could write to my heart’s content and not feel guilty about it.
I’d been champing at the bit (no pun intended) for a while now to find a little ‘me’ time and indulge in some serious writing. I’d been looking over some old projects and I’d been taking a hard look at the viability of current ones. Every chance I got, I would complain about how I didn’t have time to write–and suddenly, I did. Only, and here’s where the universe laughs, not really.
By Thursday evening, I was one of the lucky ones in my area who still had power. Over 200,000 homes lost power in the region, and almost 10,000 in my immediate area. Heavy rains for days had weakened branches and trees–when the skies suddenly dumped heavy snow to boot, trees bent under the weight of the wet snow. Some snapped, taking down power lines with them. Mine didn’t *quite* do that. What happened was that the trees pulled the lines down sufficiently to break the neutral ground cable from the pole–but not the rest of the power lines. So because I still had electricity, I innocently went to turn on the dryer Thursday night, and probably blew out half the wiring in my house.
The laundry room light brightened to a white-hot intensity, as though the MotherShip was hovering overhead and they were waiting to take me to their leader, and then went out. The dryer made a terrible grinding noise. I turned off the dryer, and the overhead light came back on–but dimly. I could smell a chemical, burning odor, so I shut the breaker to the laundry room and tiptoed away. I had no idea what had happened, but vowed to call an electrician in the morning.
Friday morning, I get the call that work has been cancelled, do the happy dance, and take the dog out into the yard. I took a ridiculous number of photographs, a few of which turned out well.
On our return to the house, I blithely start breakfast, turning on the stove and opening the fridge to get the bacon and eggs. As I watched, the fridge light dimmed. So did the lights on the stove. Saying some very bad words, I turned everything off, but I realized that the damage might have already been done by whatever happened to the dryer the night before. I got an electrician out, and that’s when we discovered the leaning tree limbs and the pulled cables. The good news is the electric company will have to fix that. The bad news is the wiring in the house may be damaged, and I won’t know until the electric company fixes the cable. Oh, and I have to leave the main breaker switched off in the meantime. Which means no heat, no water, and worst of all, no internet.
I dealt with it pretty well last night. I put on all my cold weather riding gear and sat with a camp lantern, reading from the well-charged Nook. I had pocket hand warmers in my bedroom slippers and was wearing hand-knitted fingerless mittens given to me by a friend. The dog slept by my side on the couch. It was peaceful. In fact, by 8:30, I was seriously thinking of bed.
I slept in a sleeping bag rated outdoors for 30 degrees, and with Alexander The Great snuggled in the bag by my side, who needed a hot water bottle?
This morning, it was only 49 degrees F in my bedroom. Getting out of bed took an effort. I hurriedly put on warmer clothes, took care of the animals, and headed off for the day to the BF’s place to do laundry and, yes, write.
Only what did I do instead? I spent the day catching up on emails, on Facebook, on Twitter, on LJ…before I knew it, the day had gotten away from me and it was time for me to go home and feed the animals again. Ironically, one of the discussions I had today was about how the recommendations of social media are sometimes in conflict with what is best for an individual writer. At some point, I dropped this little gem:
“Sometimes social media gurus forget that a writer’s most important job is to write.”
Out of the mouths of babes…
Here it is, quarter after nine, and I still have as yet to crack open the WIP. What’s up with that? Haven’t I just said I was panting and pawing to get to it for days now? Well, the truth is simple. Writing when it was just for me, when it was just for fun, was easier. And as new writers, I think it is far too easy to get sucked into the mindset of how important social media is to our success. Don’t get me wrong, it is important. In just the last few weeks alone, I’ve met a group of really nice authors with all kinds of useful information to pass along, and this kind of networking is invaluable. You know these people, and then when you see something good happens for them, you signal boost happily. That’s why going to conventions is so great, why networking works.
But what doesn’t work for me is huge chat lists, and the overwhelming numbers on Twitter and Facebook that I can’t really put names to, or have a real conversation with. And I think it is tempting to spend all your time making and maintaining these connections and chatting about nothing in particular because it is a damn sight easier than working on your next novel. Somewhere along the way, the naive new writer gets scared. You realize that you’ve been doing it all wrong. You backpedal and spend time building your platform and you sign up for chats that are filled with the sound of crickets chirping in the background because no one knows who you are–and that makes you panic and promote yourself even more.
When you just need to sit down and write. Because bottom line, having another story for people to read is your best promotion ever. And, to be fair, the social media gurus do tell us this. But telling someone how to write a great story is harder than telling them how to promote themselves–just like writing the story is harder than the chit-chat, or the blogging, or the Tweeting.
Somewhere along the line, I’ve become addicted to the internet. I compulsively check my social networking sites, I go around and around in circle: checking email, then LJ, then Twitter, then Facebook, and then opening another browser and doing it again under my other (new) pen name. And it will all be for naught if I don’t have anything for you to read.
So while there will be regularly scheduled broadcasts as newsworthy things come about, and guest blogs, and random musings from my rambling mind, my most important job here is to write the next story. For me, and for you, too.