Overhead … if a Tweet falls in the blogoshere and there’s no one there to ‘like’ it …

MechanicIn a prior life, I knew quite a bit about overhead.  It’s that mysterious add-on the mechanic uses to explain why a $20-dollar-an-hour guy is charged to you at 60 bucks an hour.  Or why a lawyer has to charge $400/hr.  (Never mind … lawyers never explain overhead.)

I have read quite a bit recently about writing.  There’s hardship, writer’s block, the pain of loneliness.  The creative process, like any birthing, is supposed to be painful but ultimately rewarding.  At least, that’s the take of the great writers of, say, the 19th and 20th centuries.  But those writers from days of yore (like, you know, before 2002) never seem to talk much about overhead.  Modern treatises on writing must understand that overhead is an issue, because they allude to it.  They’re often telling you that you have to “make time for writing!”  That chapter is followed by the one called Optimizing Your Social Media Platform.  The subtext is that you’d better do both.  In this connected twenty-first century of ours, everything … everything … needs a marketing component, right?

As an unpublished writer (well, almost published … see self-congratulatory post immediately preceding this one), I guess it’s my lot in life to spend a great deal of time on the pick-and-shovel work of writing.  But it does get old.

I looked back over the last several weeks, and I see that I spent my ‘writing’ time thusly:

15%

Writing blog entries (and I’m behind the sensible prescription to ‘write a short entry every couple of days and a longer one every couple of weeks’)

5%

Figuring out what the #$$% HootSuite is good for

5%

Trying to understand the byzantine kluge of software called Facebook.  (Oh, yes … they changed format a couple of weeks ago, just when I’d got used to the old one)

10%

Rewriting my pitch (aka Query) for novel #1, Hack the Yak (that’s edition 8)

7%

Reading other people’s blogs.  After all, when blogs follow you, you have to follow them …

4%

Cleaning up e-mail from the 85 blogs I follow.

17%

Getting distracted and going on bird walks to find really interesting stuff on Wikipedia, YouTube, etc., etc.

7%

Reformatting and extracting short stories and parts of current writing for submission to writing groups, as well as commenting on others’ writing.

4%

Searching for publishers, agents and literary journals to submit to (I’m mostly on vacation from that for the moment.)

26%

WRITING.  Happily creating, investigating, winding up and unwinding the story of the next novel and watching the people of the novel grow, struggle, fight and fornicate.

So, when I say, “I’m going in to write for a couple of hours,” I guess I have to multiply by 4.

TechnoMania … Getting the drift of social media

Man, this blogging business has already been an experience, and I’ve only been at it for a few weeks. WordPress, facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and a host of wannabes. Pinterest, Flickr. Oh, Yah … YouTube of course. Widgets. HTML.
Having gotten the basic blog together, I was feeling like I was at the top of a long hill, only to look across a misty valley to see yet another, higher mountain ahead.

In my case, it’s Web 2.0. I think I may have conquered Web 0.85, working manfully on 1.0. One of the curious aspects of social networking is all the vehicles offer solutions that are INCREDIBLY SIMPLE, just ask their homepages. Just a few keystrokes and … you can do something trivial. Want to do something interesting? Well, guess what, it’s convoluted. It’s hard. Leaves one with the impression that the social network software world is run by guys and gals who are incredibly clever at very obscure stuff and bear grudges against the regular people out there that got more dates than they did back in high school.
HINT from a Web 0.85 kind of guy: If you’re just getting into this stuff, start out at http://www.jenniewiley.com. Jennifer Wylie is the librarian at the very fine Cotuit, Massachusetts library and an expert on the kinds of skills and activities that will define ‘library’ in a few years. Her website has a collection of articles and lists on this tech stuff that is a great place to start. It got me from 0.85 to 1.0, and I think I see her standing on top of that next higher hill…

Now, back to the writing …