Sometimes, as parents, we ignore the advice we give our own children. We eat sugary foods after nine o’clock at night. We drink more than we should. We talk to strangers.
When Eldest Weasel was born, we were living in Wales, and though there were folks around us, none of them were long-term friends. I was home, raising a baby for the first time, and I didn’t have a peer-group. Lucky for me, we had an internet connection, and I began to explore the world of online communication. I had started writing, after all, and wanted to build a relationship with potential readers.
At the time, Yahoo was running a social media site called “Yahoo 360”. It looked a lot like Facebook, and before too long I was “talking” daily with a bunch of people there. We talked about books, and tv programmes, and how our days were going. I didn’t know them as actual people – the picture above is the avatar I used, and most of the others had avatars that didn’t show their actual faces. Or species.
Sadly, 360 didn’t last much longer than our time in Wales, and I didn’t find a suitable replacement for many years. I still have some of the stories I was told by those people, and still think of them fondly – some had user names that crop up from time to time in other contexts. I don’t care what my kids tell me about Mario, for me Bowser will always be the name of a small dog wearing goggles.
These days, as I’ve often mentioned, I hang out at G+. It may not be popular with the media, who love to announce the demise of the platform every few months, but I have a healthy circle of friends on there, and they help me out with my stuff and vice versa. Recently one of my online friends let me know she was going to be in Vancouver, and could she drop by?
Lucky for me, her visit coincided with my break at work, so I got to show her the library where I work, and then we sat in the sun and chatted. Since Lisa’s husband’s work takes him on many trips, she’s recently begun meeting up with the folks she’s met online when the destinations coincide, and so far, she says “none of them have been axe murderers!”
It was great to meet Lisa, because she’s what I think of as a “proper” writer. She’s written five novels (with a sixth on the way) and she has two collections of short fiction available too: check out her website.
I picked up the audio copy of her Sci-Fi novel “Ithaka Rising”, the sequel to “Derelict”. It’s great stuff, and available at Audible. Lisa is a “proper” writer because she does the work, just like S.A. Hunt, who I wrote about recently. She produces a first draft then gets it professionally edited before going into re-writes. Her covers are gorgeous and produced in consultation with professional artists. Once she has the complete product, she works hard on the sales, the word of mouth, the reviews and the recommendations. She networks well, and the people who have met or spoken to her are happy to pass on a recommendation – she’s good at what she does!
It was great to meet Lisa and to be reminded that there are people behind those tiny square pictures. It’s nice to know that the conversations I have with my imaginary friends aren’t sailing off into the ether, but connecting me to real people, wherever they are int he world. So if you’re ever tempted to shut down Facebook and make some “genuine” connections, take a second to think what it is that’s making you think like that. You can choose what you communicate, no matter the medium, and it doesn’t matter how the message is delivered if it touches someone’s life.