July 30, 2014

Social Media Conundrums for Introverted Writers and Other Creatures Who Lurk in Silence

Photo Credit: Love is the key via Compfight cc
Social media connections are both boon and bane for me. I am an introvert. Proudly. Happily. I internalize my angst. I hide in my office. I pour out grief and laughter and craziness onto blank pages and those become stories and those stories get published. Not all. But most. The important ones, I think. Even in the smallest tale--or the funniest one--there is a truth revealed.

I like readers. I am one. But being a reader among readers is not the same as being a writer among readers. Connecting with readers via Facebook and Twitter and +Google and Insert New Social Media Thingamajig Here can be fun and fruitful and satisfying.

And difficult. And strange. And exhausting.

My phone and my computer tell me when someone posts or messages me or mentions me. I'm not sure what to do with it all, but I find myself spending untold minutes scrolling through the lives of others and staring at their posts and pictures. I like and retweet and +1 and so forth, but after a while, I don't want to do it anymore.

I don't want to do anything. The influx of information is much like a thousand shouting voices. I feel pummeled. I'm on social media for a variety of reasons, some of them being to stay in touch with those I know and love and admire. And of course, as a writer who now primarily delivers stories to a digital market, I must stay connected to my audience.

Therein lies my conundrum. Introverts used to be able to hide. We like the dark. We like the silence. We like our own company. I am thoroughly confused by people who want to be around other people all the time, almost like they might jump out of their own skins if they had to be alone. Social media has crept into the dark. The silence. The solitary room in which I thrive. There are people with me, all the time, and I carry them in my pocket. It's discombobulating.

I go away sometimes. I don't think it's good for keeping connections--at least not from a promotional perspective. +Klout certainly seems to track my inefficiencies as an influencer (whatever the hell that is). But leaving is good for my own mind. I need that solitude. The problem is that I tend to stay away for too long. It's important to be out there, to be seen, to be visible to the market.

I want to write. But seeing as how writing is also working, my job, my wonderful, fantastic job, and it makes the money needed for those little things like food and shelter and pet kibble, I can't ignore the social media glad-handing that comes with being a purveyor of products. Books are products. The creation is art, sure, sometimes. But at the end, the story is a product that I must sell. To you. And him. And her. And that person over there.

If you were to meet me in person, you'd never know that I'd rather be squirreled away in a dark corner with my laptop and a coffee. After all, if you'd gone to all the trouble to meet me, then it's my honor to spend time with you. I know this seems contrary, and it is, but I've found that two truths can co-exist, even if they are contradictory.

I suppose all this rambling is simply me trying to figure out the best way to navigate the ever-changing world of the author and of the reader. And I how might be able to reach readers in meaningful ways without feeling utterly overwhelmed by the social media process. The point is--if I can pull one out of this tangled mess--is that whenever I find myself drowning in charts and numbers and sales data and metrics, I go back to the writing. Worry easily turns into wonder then.

The best thing about being a writer is the writing. So there's where I start. And where I end.