Let the Competition Begin!

“Fame is a vapor, popularity an accident, and riches take wings. Only one thing endures and that is character.”
~~Horace Greeley

These days it’s almost impossible not to compete on some level. Whether or not we consider ourselves competitive or not, the world seems bound and determined to rate us in one way or another. It’s like that in many areas in life and it certainly exists for the writers out there. Maybe we set ourselves up for this the moment we set foot into social media arena and yet……

While we might not openly admit to this competitiveness, I’m here to say it exists as sure as I’m sitting here writing this post. Granted, we might not necessarily compete against anyone in particular, sometimes the competition is self-induced, a means of striving for more and more. More what you might ask? More blog followers, more comments in our comment section, more likes on Facebook, more followers on Twitter…And the more, more, more continues until we start to lose the enjoyment these very same social media sites once provided us with.

I recently noticed a new option on my Facebook author page. This is kind of what prompted this post in the first place. Here’s what it says on my administration page:

“New! Pages to watch. Track the progress on any Pages you want to watch. You’ll see how many likes they get so you can keep up.”

This darn near knocked my socks off when I saw it. Really? Now they want us to try and “keep up” with the popularity of other pages? Kind of feels like we’re back in elementary school here. Now, I really shouldn’t knock Facebook. I do like it. It’s fun and allows me to keep up with what my friends and family are doing. There are plenty of benefits to it but, as with anything out there, it comes with a certain amount of criticism. And we do love to criticize in one way or another. I’m sure many of us could list our complaints if we wanted to be picky.

I’ll admit, it feels good to have that validation whenever we update a status or publish a blog post, but we also run the risk of becoming too involved, too needy, too wanting of other people’s opinions and comments, instead of allowing things to unfold naturally. What will be will be. There’s no fancy way of putting it so far as I’m concerned. I’m not ready to jump through hoops in order to gain popularity. Speaking of popularity, I just received a notification the other day stating that my Klout score just went up. Do I care? No. Should I? Maybe. Maybe not.

Seriously, I like my author page, but as for tracking the progress of other pages I’m just not interested in turning it into a competition. I feel as though I spend as much time on social media as I dare, maybe more than I should at times. If I don’t actually write then the author page seems a bit pointless. Not to mention I have people already asking when the next book is coming.

What are your thoughts on social media? Do you feel the competition in the air whenever you venture out there? Do you have a Facebook page or do you think they’re pointless?

All Aboard the Bandwagon

Ah the bandwagon, that gloriously wonderful place to be. Toot your horns and play your trombones ‘cause the circus is coming to town. Add some razzmatazz (God, I love that word) to the mix, some decorations and away we go!

Back in the day, the bandwagon paraded through the streets when the circus came to town. The purpose was to attract the public, peak their interest, and drum up a little business. I mean, it was the circus, how often did it come to town? Of course there were never any circus’ coming through good old E. Dalhousie, and certainly no bandwagons, at least in that sense of the word.

In the late 19th century, politicians picked up on this form of attracting a crowd and began using bandwagons when campaigning for office. (I googled all this because I really wasn’t sure where the term bandwagon originated.)

Today, we speak about someone jumping on the bandwagon we generally mean they want in on what’s trendy, because let’s face it, trendy means popular and who doesn’t enjoy popularity?

We hear about trends in book publishing, and what’s hot at the moment. Hot means books sales, and books sales means well:

Book sales  + Popularity = Every author’s dream.

Back when I was a fledgling writer with no real direction, no clear idea of style or voice, just an urge to express myself with words, back when I was furiously trying to figure it out, figure me out, figure the world out, while figuring my kids out, I thought the bandwagon was the place to be. It was fun, it was popular, there was razzmatazz. Not only that, if I wanted to catch a publisher’s eye I had to give them what they wanted and sure as heck they wanted trendy.

I tried writing what I thought would get me published. The problem was, what I thought would get me published had nothing to do with being true to who I was as a writer and as a person.  Now, don’t get me wrong, if trendy is who you are through and through, and is not simply coming from your need to write what will sell, then you’re on the right path.

I wasn’t. Not in the beginning. I couldn’t even see the path because I wasn’t even looking in the right place.

So I was a baby taking baby steps along with my two year old at the time. I was trying to find my way in the dark, with no guidance and no helping hand. I made wild stabs in the dark, first this way, then that. It’s called life, and we all make our share of wild, uncontrolled stabs in the dark while trying to find our way.

My first steps were wobbly. Not only that,  I was as clumsy as elephant. I saw where I wanted to be and I headed straight for it, crushing everything in my path. I thought I was going to get the peanut that way, and boy, was I mistaken.

But don’t cry for me and don’t feel sorry. We all travel the path that is meant for us. Some of us tread lightly, others stomp our way through.

I’ve always been stubborn and independent, always figured I had to discover these things for myself. It’s not that I didn’t want the help of others, there just were no “others” out there to offer it. The path looked mighty deserted. Not to mention that, in the beginning, I was on a secret mission. But secret mission or not, in the very beginning, I climbed up on that bandwagon for a spell. Trendy look pretty good from where I was standing. In fact it looked about right. It was going to get me published.

I would never advise anyone starting out to follow my footsteps. Our footsteps are unique, the path we choose is the one we need to travel. We need to make our own mistakes and find our own way.

The moment I read that we should write what we know, an idea came to me. I knew what I could write about. I was a bit nervous. Up until then I’d been writing what I didn’t know because I just didn’t know any different. And then my first story was published and I felt immediate joy. I had found the path that was right for me.

Would the path lead me to popularity? Would publishers immediately snap up every morsel I wrote, eager to get my words in print?

What do you think?

But I had learned a valuable lesson.

I learned to stop looking over my shoulder. I learned to write the story that was uniquely mine. I found the path that was meant for my footprints. And this is where I want to be, this is where I have found publication.

So have you ever climbed up on the bandwagon? If you have was it the right place to be?

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