Well, it’s been a (metaphorical) trip, but I’m back. And about to go on a literal trip.
I’ve been pretty silent here on my blog and over on my Patreon page for the past few months, basically going back to when my late winter/early spring sickness tripped me up. Dealing with the backlog of boring but necessary technical stuff that built up over three-four weeks of feeling like death took a lot of time and energy, during which other stuff piled up, and life kept happening, for good or for bad.
While it has been a struggle keeping up, life has mostly been good. I’ve found a very interesting and unexpected niche as a social media pundit (not a pundit about social media, a pundit on social media) that is honestly doing better for paying my bills and contributing to the household than anything else I’ve done.
At popular request, I’ve tried a few ways of converting my social media observations to other formats for other platforms. None of them have really panned out. Twitter’s built-in Moments system breaks down on longer threads. The third-party solutions I’ve tried (Storify and Kanvz) also tend to become unworkable as threads grow. Even when they work, stopping to collate and curate my thoughts slows me down so much and keeps me always working on what happened yesterday or an hour ago (which in today’s climate are both equal to 100 million years) instead of taking in what’s happening now and looking towards where we’re going.
And because I can see the numbers, I also know: it’s not worth the effort. People tell me they’d be more inclined to share a collected link than a Twitter thread, but the numbers say the opposite is true. Twitter threads are the most mobile medium of thought on the internet, because each element within them can be shared separately and sharing any one element drags the whole thing along.
They’re unfamiliar to people, which causes reactions of “What is this?” and “Ugh, if it takes more than one tweet it’s not worth seeing on Twitter.” But those are problems that will be solved with time and exposure.
I made a valiant stab at accommodating people at this, but the tools aren’t there and the time’s not worth it. So I’m going back to my old standby of when people ask “Can you put this in a format I can link to on Facebook?” of pointing out that you can link to a Twitter thread just fine on Facebook, or anywhere else. The link to the first tweet is the link to the thread. That’s what makes it a thread.
I am sorry to disappoint everyone who appreciates other formats, but… I’ve got to go with what works. Threads work. Collations get shared less. Blog posts get shared least of all. That’s the world we live in, and I can’t pretend otherwise just because it seems counter-intuitive.
So, my big new project that I was so excited about before I got sick, Secret Sisterhood of Superheroes? There have been technical hold-ups on that, too, but we’ve cleared those hurdles and now we’re ready to launch. As mentioned up-post, I’m going on a trip. Next weekend is Memorial Day, which means it’s WisCon. I had already planned on throwing a party for the 10th anniversary of launching Tales of MU (June 7th, 2007), with a more expansive theme of serial web fiction in general… now that I have a new serial to launch it’s also the launch party for that.
On May 28th, the prologue for Secret Sisterhood will go live at http://www.secretsisterhoodofsuperheroes.com. On June 1st, the first (novella-length) issue will begin. Patrons get the whole issue at once. Everybody else can read it a chapter at a time on the website. I know I haven’t been posting patron goodies lately, but that’s a big one coming June 1st: about 75 pages, by standard novel page count. And more like it to follow.
Secret Sisterhood is more ambitious than anything else I’ve published, on multiple levels, and getting it off the ground has consumed me. My other fiction projects have definitely fallen by the wayside, not so much because it took me a long time to write the story (that was the quick and easy part!) but because of everything else that’s going into giving it the launch it deserves. I will be resuming posting other fiction things in the next few weeks as well.
Changes in Approach
First, if you’re reading this on Facebook: I’m going to be phasing out the cross-posting between my blog and (t)here very soon. It’s part of a change to how I approach social media. Facebook doesn’t display blog posts with all the same formatting (pictures, links, etc.) that I give them, which sometimes makes posts unintelligible or completely alters the context. I’m also trying to get away from my personal Facebook acting as a professional platform. Honestly, one of the reasons I don’t post here more is that some of the times one of my posts blows up on Facebook it winds up being more of a drag than a boost.
I might set it up to post links on Facebook, but I’m not even sure I want to do that. The key thing here is: I don’t have comments turned on for my blog, but I don’t think I can stop people from commenting on Facebook. I don’t care if people are discussing my work. I hope they are. I just really don’t want or need to know about it.
Second, I’ve been rethinking how I handle my Patreon. I keep making plans for what to post there, how often, etc., that fall apart because the next month, the world and I are both in completely different places than they were when I laid the plans down. I just can’t keep up with it. I’ve tried putting together my newsletters but the personal plans are obsolete and the political stuff would be old news by the time they go out.
So the new plan is going to be almost but not completely unplanned. Like, I will make plans from month to month. I’ll plan out what I’m doing in my day and week. But I won’t be trying to fit a formula for an entire year, or an ongoing basis.
The big advantage of being a “solo operator” is that I’m quick and nimble and can change what I’m doing to fit the situation and my needs. So that’s what I’m going to be doing.
Rather than take the ailing newsletter notion off life support, though, I’m going to change my approach to it. I’m neither going to be reproducing everything I’ve written/published (instead I’ll get better about round-ups and links and cross-posts to Patreon).
Instead I’m going to start keeping a journal of the month as I go. It’s a small change in perspective but a key one, because with a journal I’m not trying to shape a whole month into a narrative that still makes sense at the end of the month. Everything in the journal is dated to begin with, so it can’t “become dated”.
I’m starting it today. Obviously the one for May is going to be short. I want to start it now, though, because 1) I want to be in the habit when the first full month starts, and 2) I am about to go on a train trip and attend a con, so there’ll be interesting experiences to record.
Looking Backwards and Forwards
Last year about this time, I was in pretty bad shape. My Patreon was floundering. My creative output was nil. My career, such as it was, felt like it had been circling the drain since my life was upended years ago by a series of events and it was about to go down.
I tried to kick things into gear by proclaiming a Year of Awesome from my 36th birthday (a perfect square year) and my 37th birthday (a prime year). I had big, bold plans for what I was going to do each and every month within that year.
That… didn’t work out.
And I’ve used up a lot of time and energy trying to dissect that and trying to figure out how I can do better, but it hit me recently:
I have had a year of awesome.
My Patreon’s more than doubled from last year, even though I haven’t been able to keep up specific frameworks and structures. And I’m making more money through other streams.
I didn’t write a short story every month, but the short stories I did write are phenomenal. Some of my best, some of my favorites. My reach on social media has octupled. I have been published in serious big time magazines and periodicals. I am friends with journalists and chat with honest-to-goodness celebrities. I’ve met U.S. Senators. Rosie O’Donnell gave me advice on how to deal with a sudden rush of attention. I was given an award for writing by George R.R. Martin. That I beat him for.
And people tell me every day that the work I’m doing on political stuff matters, that it helps them, that it
I haven’t really dwelled on much of this because I’ve been focused on what’s not happening, what I’m not doing, what I can’t do.
I don’t know what the next year is going to look like. We are living in troubled times, tumultuous times. My father, who has let me know he is immensely proud of what I’ve been doing, told me that times like these are made for people like me.
So I’m going to continue to play to my strengths, which I have to admit, are *not* in planning and *not* in follow-through. I live in the moment, I excel in the moment. Nimbleness and agility, thinking on my feet, following the muse and seeing where opportunity takes me.
That’s what my real Year of Awesome was about. And I think embracing that is going to make my next Year of Awesome better.