Life Without Facebook

It’s been several weeks since I quit Facebook and I wanted to share a little of what it’s been like for me, both as a person and as a writer trying to make my way through the traditional publishing gauntlet.

Pro: I’ve been much more emotionally stable since quitting FB which has led to deeper and more frequent work sessions on my current novel. When I’m mentally churning about something, it’s hard to get into a place where I’m really focused. No junky FB input=clearer brain=better work.

Con: I do not wish friends a Happy Birthday until I accidentally remember several days after the fact. I did not know when a friend’s grandmother passed away recently. I found out days later and felt sad that I hadn’t been able to reach out when it happened.

Pro: I do not write statuses that are either superfluous OR controversial. I do not spend one second wondering if what I write will be misconstrued or ignored. I do not fear the rage police.

Con: I kind of don’t know what’s going on.

Pro: I like people more now that I don’t know what they’re saying online. I pray more for them instead of judging them. I’m helped to do this because I’m not in a constant state of outrage or disagreement. I’m a kinder person in my thought life.

Con: I can’t see my literary agent’s FB posts. These are an easy way to get the latest industry/agency updates or anything else she thinks we should know. It makes me uncomfortable that I have to email her with questions she might already have addressed.

Pro: I have less anxiety now that I’m not bombarded with endless hot takes on sensationalized news stories by people who may not know what they’re talking about. I’m sleeping better than I was.

Con: I’m a writer, and I’m not building a platform on the largest social media site on the planet. I don’t seem socially conscious or concerned because I’m not publicly commenting on issues. I’m basically invisible.

Here’s something interesting, though: a few weeks after quitting FB, I got a personal email from the editor of a major print and online publication (to be revealed later) asking me to write a column for their Jan/Feb edition. When I asked how he found me–after picking my jaw off the floor–he said, “I was on your website, though, honestly, I’m not sure how I ended up on there!”

To be clear, I did not query this publication. I did not go looking for an opportunity to platform build. This came to me, and I was shocked. As a Christian, I immediately knew it was a little sign, a gift from God reminding me that I don’t have to go insane in pursuit of publication or praise or platform. That he has my life in his hands and that, no matter what happens, I can trust him.

So, am I glad I got off Facebook, all things considered? Yes. I’m infinitely better off without it, and I have no intention of going back. But more importantly, I’m reminded that I do not have to do what everyone else is doing if it isn’t good for me. You don’t, either.

We Are Never Getting Back Together

I’ve not written a single blog post since the world melted down and began pouring itself over us all like molten lava. Anyone who’s been alive recently knows what I’m talking about, so I won’t bore you with with sentence fragments like, “In these unprecedented times…” By now, heaven help us, the times are precedented.

I only stick my head out of the hole I dug a few months ago (whew! That was some foresight on my part) in order to say I’ve quit social media, specifically that dumpster fire known as Facebook, and I swear I’m not ever going back, no matter what. This is no biggie, of course, except that I also have a manuscript that’s being shopped to publishers as we speak. Being on Facebook seems to be the kind of virtue signaling publishers like. Seems to suggest you’re trying, that you understand how much selling books is your responsibility and not theirs.

But nothing, no book deal, not even a million dollars (I mean this), is worth being “connected” in this particular way. Especially not after the molten lava.

As my teenagers would say, stepping away from Facebook is my way of YOLO-ing it. In other words, I’m throwing caution to the wind, shaking my fist at The Internet, and quite possibly lowering my chances of getting traditionally published (even though everyone knows social media doesn’t sell books), and I’m super, duper not sorry.

I’ve decided that I want to be sane. Sanity is boring but peaceful, most of the time. If I have to choose between it and a book deal, I choose the former.

I’ll let you know if it makes any difference in the end.

P.S. I hope everyone is safe.

Surviving the Social Life

Am I allowed to say something that’s already been said a million times?

Okay. The internet is mean. Social media, at least. Twitter specifically. I’ve only dipped my toe in the social whirlpool in the last couple of months. Even then, I only did it because you know what “they” say: you have to be searchable to survive.

I can’t even call it a love/hate relationship cuz there’s no love.

Most of my interactions have been pleasant enough, up to this point, because I’ve worked hard to keep them that way. But today I felt the Twitter wind in my face when I least expected it. I’m not cut out for this kind of anonymous conflict (and, to be clear, I didn’t court it with thoughtless or mean words. I asked a follow-up question on someone’s post). I’m not a troll, but I was treated like one. The whole exchange left me confused and sad.

It’s one thing to develop a thick skin because I’m sending my manuscript out to publishers who might not understand it or (worse) ignore it. That kind of toughness makes professional sense, though it’s not easy to cultivate. It’s another thing to try and change my personality.

Today left me wondering if social media toughness is something I need or want to develop. And let’s say I can’t. Then what? Do I avoid the whole scene altogether? Is that publishing suicide?

What I know is this: writing is extremely important to me. But so is emotional wellness. I want to be published. But I also want to feel safe.

I continue to wonder if both things are possible.

On Surviving ‘Big Opportunities’ Part Deux

I’m back from the ACFW conference. After going to bed at 9 p.m. for the last two nights, I feel like I might be getting back to normal (it’s a process that involves a little crying here and there). The conference was rewarding, but it pushed this introvert fairly far as I shook hands, flashed my lanyard, and explained what my novel is about to people waiting to tell me about theirs. Each night I fell asleep with my mouth open, Golden Girls blaring on the hotel TV, while other conferees partied and swapped business cards.

Some takeaways: be prepared that your best laid plans might not be the ones you stick with, and that’s okay. Be nice to people, just because, and let them be nice to you. Don’t keep eating the spicy dessert because you can’t think of anything to say to the table full of strangers.

close up of human hand
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

More takeaways: my novel is interesting to agents. I will have to write a proposal. It’s good to be humble, but it’s also good to put yourself out there. Just because you want to keep “creative control” doesn’t mean you can’t compromise in order to get some help. Everyone defaults to Facebook when it comes to social media and building a brand except for one person, and she said YouTube was better. I’m trying to decide which of those I find more horrifying.

Final takeaways: my teenagers got taller in four days. God is good to me. I really, really like my own bed.