Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Online Platforms, “Strings, Sealing Wax and Other Fancy Stuff” for Writers

So you want to be a writer, have your work known and make a mark in the world with your writing. You have talent. You have skills. You have pages of ideas written down, piles of notes stuck everywhere and a hundred writing projects in some stage of the works. You have piles of finished work that hasn’t been published yet. However, if no one knows you or your work, how do you expect to get your name out there, by osmosis?

Wishing doesn’t work. Neither does endless dreaming, although it is fun to dream. Sometimes envisioning your dreams may help you to realize what you really want out of it and give you specific goals to shoot for. Sitting and thinking about doing it will not make any mark at all, except maybe in that fantasyland in your head that no one can see. How do you start making a name for yourself besides building up a library of your writing?

As supportive as your close-knit circle of friends and family may be they most likely are not going to be enough to make your mark out in the big world. Unless they have some phenomenal connection to someone who has some say in the upper echelons of publicity and publishing circles, they are the connection themselves, or they are willing to buy say 100,000 plus copies of everything you get published, chances are like most writers or artists of any kind, you are going to have to do your due duty to make your own mark.

It takes time. It takes work. Sometimes it is a pain in the behind, but keep the long term goals in mind. That makes it much more pleasant and easier to do. Besides you meet some great people along the road.

Establishing a platform to make yourself known seems to be almost on par with actually doing the writing you so long to see published. What is a platform? Basically in simple terms it is saying “Hey world, here I am. This is me. Get to know me. I have something worthwhile to say! Pick me. Buy my creations.” It is getting you known and hopefully in a good way that brings your words positive attention. With hard work and a certain amount of luck, that will then domino into more possibilities and accomplishments.

A full platform involves many different types of exposure. One of the most powerful ones that you have some control over, you are sitting right in front of and reading this blog on, the computer in an online world. It has the potential to reach the whole world. Pretty powerful stuff, isn’t it? You may be sitting on a chair at a desk in a little room with only a view of the house next door or your yard that desperately needs work, but your words put on the internet are on a worldwide excursion. That is a heck of a platform-creating tool.

Run your name on a Google search just for the fun of it. See if you are out there anywhere. The first time it shows up is a hoot. It makes you sit up straight, chuckle and say, “Hey, that’s me!” After that, it is up to you to start getting it to show up on many pages of searches. If you can’t find yourself on the web, how is anyone else going to find you? They do not come looking for you until they know you are there to be looking for. You have to make your mark.

Next blog I will give you an idea how to get started. Hint: you are looking at it.

One last thought for today, I seem to have neglected to put my name on my blog other than the website link for my author’s site. It’s Laurie Darroch-Meekis. Someday I hope that name comes easily to mind, but with the correct pronunciation. Hearing my name mispronounced Dare Rock or Dare Roach or any other creatively unique interpretation thereof makes me shiver the same way a finger nail being drawn across a blackboard does to some people.

In my family we pronounce Darroch, Dare oh as in Clarence Darrow.(no relation) Unless you speak some Gaelic or enough Dutch or another language with similar sounds that you have actually mastered the subtle guttural throat sound of g or ch without sounding like you are getting ready to clear a large amount of phlegm out of your throat, and can pronounce it the way it is said in Gaelic, do not even attempt to say it any other way than the way we do. Meekis is Me Kiss, simple. Pleased to meet you!

Hmm, I wonder if this will show up on Google later.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Ripple Writing

Do you realize what you write is like a pebble thrown in a pond? It causes ripples that continue ad infinitum. Somewhere those ripples touch someone, or many someones, if you are lucky.

As positive comments (or even negative ones) and reviews come in on things I have written or am writing it always stuns me that my work has impact, that it makes people react, or think, or laugh or groan or cry. I sit here after reading a reaction thinking, That person is reacting to my writing, mine, wow. It is both humbling and encouraging.

It as if I had stepped out of my body and had unknowingly happened upon someone talking about me, a spirit, a fly on the wall, shocked that what I said caused a reaction.

I don't think if I am ever blessed enough to reach the status of something as lofty as best seller, Pulitzer prize winner, poet laureate, Caldecott winner or any other literary award that feeling would ever change.

I am one regular human being like any other writer. Even the most well known writers, the most financially successful or well respected write the same way I do, one word at a time. Yet what comes from this pen, or this computer keyboard as the case may be, can actually- even if only momentarily- affect another human life, or many human lives. That's a powerful realization. It is a little intimidating too.

I stifled my writing, for the most part for years and didn't listen to myself. I listened to everyone else’s expectations, trying to fit a mold that was not of my own making. Today as I am finally free of those barriers and again writing, and amazingly enough, published. I am remembering one event that took place before I let the shackles fall in place. That event stunned me in the same way as reactions to my work do today.

When I was teenager a couple poems I wrote started a deep, heartfelt discussion. I wish I had listened to those words and kept them alive, what he said to me. I wonder where I would have been on this quest if I had, a great deal further I think. No, I know I would have been instead of starting at the bottom in the last few years.

I was in college in Beirut. Visiting performers, dignitaries, business people and friends would go there for various reasons. On occasion I met them. A singer came, either on a performing tour or just to see the Middle East. I don't remember why. I had heard his name before and curious I ended up at a small group gathering in the backroom or basement where he was meeting with people. It may have been through my college or church there, but however I ended up there, I was there.

After he spoke to the group he sat and talked with me. He asked to hear some of my work when we were talking about writing and found out I loved to write. I was shy about it but thrilled anyone had asked. I read him a couple poems. Something struck him. What had been merely polite conversation became a genuine talk about the poems and their meanings, what they evoked in him and the common thread of understanding from things that had happened in his earlier life that were similar to mine then. He opened up. I was basically just a kid. He was already established in life and in his chosen profession. He had in his heyday of popular music, sung a song that had great social impact all over the world. His newer music was having a different more spiritual kind of impact.

Yet here something I had written that had made him pause long enough to sit and talk to a girl, a stranger to him, about the power her words had. I left that evening feeling stunned and empowered at the same time. I knew I wanted to write and he had reinforced that, but somewhere I let other's expectations become mine.

His name was Barry McGuire. The song, among others he recorded and the one he is most well known for, was "Eve of Destruction". No matter what the feeling about the song was, good or bad, it had impact. It made people think. It still does.

The power of the written word is incredible, far reaching. It is the pebble thrown in the water. How you use it matters. What you do with it can make a difference, even if it is only to yourself. Do not ever stop writing.