Anyone who knows me—anyone who has spent even 5 minutes with me—knows I care about writing. I care about many things, but writing is what I talk about the most. When I preach, it’s usually the Gospel of Language.
In this digital age, though, purposes get conflated easily. Take Facebook, which for me began as a way to keep up with old friends and acquaintances, and to meet new, potential friends, but which also functions as a kind of cut-rate publicist. Twitter, of course, is worse in this respect, magnifying the solipsistic tendencies of even the nicest people. Logging on to Twitter is like walking into a gymnasium filled with millions of people (it’s a big gym) and they’re all yelling at the top of their lungs. Nobody’s listening. Sometimes they listen just to re-shout what another person shouted a few minutes ago in a different corner of the gym.
I’m joking on the square, but I’m not giving up the digital life. I’ve had far too much success (and fun) online. I love Facebook, and, yes, Twitter. The night after we met, my future wife messaged me on Facebook. It was on a blog like this one that I first published interviews with some of my favorite authors. On Twitter, well, nothing has really happened on Twitter yet, but it might. You never know. I’ve made the acquaintance of writers whose books I’ve reviewed, writers I admire. I’ve even had some editors solicit work from me, and more than once. For connecting with the world, social media, if used properly, can provide a wonderful experience.
But I do feel a bit conceited about sharing my writing-related posts with my friends (just because they’re my friend or I met them once doesn’t mean I expect them to read everything I publish). And I feel doubly self-conscious about sharing my private life with wholly professional contacts. Does that famous writer I met one time—and who only dimly remembers me, if anything—really need to know how I feel about my grandmother? Does that person I met once at a party in college really want to read another book review I published in The Rumpus? Well, they might. Plenty of my professional contacts are also friends.
However, this post signals the end of my private and public internet presences getting mixed up. As much as I can, I’m going to untangle them. I know that the line of demarcation might be blurred, but that doesn’t mean I can’t try. What it really means that if you want to know anything about my writing, you’ll need to “like” the page on Facebook where I’ll post writing-related things, including literacy initiatives, articles by friends or interesting essays, jokes about writing and books, and, yes, my own work, although I’ll try to keep that to a minimum. The big thing is, I don’t want to double post something. I hate when my newsfeed fills up with the same posts from people. So if you don’t like my page, you’re going to miss a lot of what I post about. For some of you, this will be very sad. For others, it’ll be a huge relief.
I know well enough that I don’t really deserve what used to be called a “fan page” on Facebook. I haven’t accomplished much in the world of writing. However, at the same time, I am publishing consistently. I have 3 outstanding assignments right now, plus an article I’m writing on spec. I’m also working on the novel. In fact, last night, I stayed up well into the morning with one of my closest friends, talking about the book, taking notes on how I can make it come to life. I have over 10,000 words in the First-Time-Out (1XO) Draft. I have countless notebooks filled with scribbles that I’ve yet to transcribe. In less than a week, I’m traveling to the Eckerd College Writers’ Conference, where I’ll be working as a faculty assistant. In April, I’m traveling to Moscow, and, with another of my good friends, I’ll give a reading in the Third Rome, the Whitestone, the… Well, those are actually the only nicknames I’ve heard for Moscow.
When you add someone on Facebook, I think, they feel vaguely obligated to add you back. Not so with signing up for a feed. This is the last good reason to make a Page and Twitter (along with this blog): Anyone who follows me wasn’t pressured to add me after I met them at a conference or a party. They have a choice. Anyone who sees another post about a book review or a forthcoming short story brought it on him or herself. If you “like” the Facebook page or follow me on Twitter, I know that you believe in me, you enjoy my posts, and you want to keep hearing about my upcoming (mis)adventures: My time in Florida, my attempt to turn a typewriter into an iPad dock, my quest to build my own Little Free Library.
Everyone is invited. I hope you’ll seriously consider opting in.