I made the above statement to someone recently and I wasn't referencing my story world, although with the exception of my family, I spend more time with my fictional people than I do with real ones. I was referencing the writers I've met online, specifically through blogging and Twitter.
As I said the words, I immediately got the ... "oh, how sad" ... look. I let it bother me for about five minutes.
And then I thought about how grateful I am.
When I was close to finishing HOURGLASS, I did my research and surfed the Internet for professional help (no, not that kind of professional help, but if you've written a book you know I probably needed it).
Industry blogs were the answer - first were Nathan Bransford's and Kristen Nelson's, and then Rachelle Gardner's and Janet Reid's and/or Query Shark's and/or Miss Snark's and so on and so forth. I learned a lot of rules about what not to do, and one or two about what I should do.
Build a presence with social media, they all suggested.
All righty, I acquiesced.
At that point, blogging equaled journaling in my mind. Journals expose your deepest feelings, and the good ones are supposed to be private. Kept under lock and key. Shoved under your mattress so your mom can't find them. I decided my blog would not be a journal. It would be more like a ... a newspaper! It would be professional! Provide quality content! Wear a respectable public face!
Yeah ....... no.
As it turns out, what I put out there via social media is who I am, sometimes in an extremely distilled form. It ain't always purdy, but it's honest. And because I am real in these outlets, the people who follow my blog or my Twitter account and interact with me have a special place in my heart.
From everyone who celebrated with me when I got an agent and then a book deal, to moms who offer an uplifting word when it's needed and lovable ladies who email me funny pictures, to established authors who know where I am emotionally and encourage me privately when they don't have to, to the agents and publishers and the entire community, really, who were ALL IN for Do The Write Thing For Nashville when my city was in trouble - the list is endless.
If I tried to count on one hand the amount of actual real-life friendships that have developed because of social media I couldn't do it. I couldn't count them on ten fingers AND ten toes.
What it comes down to is, yes, quite a few of my friends do live in my computer. And in the U.K., Utah, California, Texas, Connecticut, Arkansas, New York City, Los Angeles and Ohio. They live on sun drenched beaches and in glorious mountain ranges and they do everyday things just like I do, and in the course of those days they cheer me on. I do the same for them.
When I see those Twitter announcements and blog posts about landing agents and book deals and selling movie rights and making best sellers lists? When I see pictures of newborn babies and announcements about getting jobs after years of unemployment and shiny new engagements? I celebrate.
Sometimes I cry.
When I see requests for prayer or positive thoughts when people are in trouble, sick or hurt - or when I see someone is down, really down because of life and the curve balls it throws? I worry. And I pray.
No matter where you are or how I know you - social media or next door neighbor - we are living life together. And that makes you at the least an acquaintance. But mostly it makes you a friend.
And for that, I am very, very grateful.
~ Myra McEntire