Despite the ever-progressive state of the technological age, it seems if we want to achieve real success as writers, we actually must regress back to behaviors we learned in, like, high school.
In the olden days, writers wrote. They moved to the forest to cabins with no electricity and hunted or trapped their own dinner or better yet never ate at all because they were too busy chain-smoking and ignoring everyone they’ve ever met and WRITING. The more angst and reclusivity, the better their work.
Oh, to be Harper Lee.
Now, if I want to make it as a writer, my muse is a homecoming queen. Because everyone “likes” her.
Social media has invaded even the most lonely of professions, and just like the quill, the solitary life has been expelled from the writer’s toolkit by the landmines of the “Like Me” world.
I discovered my passion for the page right around the time I opened my first email account, then shrunk away to have babies for a decade. By the time I reappeared in my cabin clothes, inkwell in hand, I realized the party’s actually been moved to my high school cafeteria.
Here I stand, tray loaded with ideas and drive, wondering where to sit.
Front and center are the mommy bloggers, the “popular group” with mad skills for making the best (or even better, the worst) of their existence, but there is some mad back scratching going on over there. Not sure I can keep up with all that constant validation and remembering everyone’s names and pages.
Passing through are the crafty class clowns, who show up for roll call to post their status, then disappear and reappear at random to start a new planking, coning or flash fun movement.
Out on the lawn is the artsy group, who know just what filter to instagram their coolness through. Their lenses don’t care if you like them, but deep inside, they really do.
LinkedIn is the National Honor Society, all grown up. Don’t show up without a briefcase and resume if you want to be taken seriously.
And then there are the too-cool-for-school tweeters squatting under the bleachers as their thumbs procure clever punchlines that knock you out in 140 characters or less.
In high school, I constantly wished we could just skip lunch and get back to business. I still do.
I now pen the weekly Cracking Up humor column for The Orange County Register, a dream job in theory. But to take the next step and get syndicated, I won’t be crafting an ingenious query and crossing my fingers for 4-6 weeks. Oh, no.
First, I’ll need to sneak under the bleachers and recruit 4,000 more Twitter followers, then comment and flatter my way through the center of the cafeteria until I convince you to follow the Conga line to my blog. All the while I’ll quip back to the clowns’ status updates and wear a necktie to widen my links, then take up photography so I can insta-open an account to make pinboards on snapfly.
With all this time spent “writing,” when am I going to find time to write?
But seriously, if you ‘like’ me, I’ll ‘like’ you. Follow me at www.momscrackingup.com and @autumnmcalpin, buy my book Real World 101: A Survival Guide to Life After High School on Amazon, and friend me on Facebook!
— Autumn McAlpin
Autumn McAlpin is the author of Real World 101: A Survival Guide to Life After High School, a columnist for The Orange County Register in southern California and a regular contributor to humorwriters.org.