Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Confessions of a Networking Novice

When I first contemplated a writing career, I thought I would write. You know, words, sentences, paragraphs, and, hopefully, books. Just write.

How naive can you get?

I had no idea writing also meant marketing. And the Internet? In the early 1990s, everyday Internet use was still confined to geeks, computer-crazed cave dwellers who preferrred the company of machines to that of humans. E-mail submissions? Perish the thought. Some Christian publishers regarded the Internet as an abomination before the Lord. I associated it mostly with headaches. The Internet opened a whole new frontier of games to my kids, who loved to zap evil cyber-villains at 1000-decibel levels.

For me, high tech was--and still is--closing a Zip-loc bag. But I let my children teach me how to e-mail because, as they said, you don't want to become a dinosaur, Mom. I admitted they were right. Dinosaurs have a habit of disappearing.

I had mastered e-mail at a reasonable level when social networking hit the scene. At first, I ranked it right up there with tight pants and top-40 songs without tunes--definitely for the under-30 crowd. Why would I want to join My Face or Spacebook? However, not only did I discover social networks enabled me to spy on my twenty-something kids and their friends, but they presented writing and career possibilities I had never imagined. I could connect with the masters and learn from them. I could lean on writer friends and offer cyber hugs and a shoulder to cry on when their protagonists turned nasty. I joined Facebook (note that I now pronounce it correctly), and I'm trying to design a Rachael M. Phillips, Author page. When I figure out how to find it without 37 clicks, maybe other people will, too.

Unfortunately, I also have shared my goofs with hundreds of viewers, a reality which makes me scrutinize every syllable I write. Twitter, especially, demonstrates the importance of editing and re-editing. One hundred forty characters do not leave much room for error--or explanations. Not only does this social network connect my Web site and Facebook pages with potential readers, it helps this card-carrying member of the Wordy Club to focus, trim and refine her thoughts.

Social networks also offer me the chance to share my faith. I continue throwing out one-liners on Twitter that I hope will give readers a grin and earn me the right to slip in an occasional truth nugget like "I wonder what Jesus did the day after His resurrection." Those less-than-140-characters resulted in surprise responses from a couple of Facebook friends who need to know Jesus is their true Friend.

And that's the best kind of social networking there is.

-Rachael Phillips-


  1. Rachael, great article on what exactly we writers are told to do.

    Good thing the great Counselor can help us sort it out!!

    Drop by my place if you ever have time!!


  2. I went into the techno age kicking and screaming out of resistance, now it's mostly out of exasperation. That's an improvement. As in all things, once I get used to it, I wonder what all the fuss was about. Still, I'm so glad I don't need any of that to communicate with God. Keep up the good work, Rachael. There's lots of people out there who need to know what you have to say.

  3. Thanks, ladies! I'm still working at it. But deep inside there still exists a silent fear that I'll blow something up at the Pentagon with that button I just pushed. . . .