Tag Archives: social media

Learning to Say "No"

Learning to Say ‘No’

Distraction is one of my biggest struggles; something I grapple with on a daily basis. A few days ago, I posted how we as creatives need to choose to make time for our craft. I referred to time as the “currency for creation.” But there’s another metaphor that works just as well: time is the medium from which we craft our creative work. Without time we cannot produce—everything else: charcoal, oil paint, clay, wood, words, everything, is secondary to time. Yet, in an ever-connected world finding those moments can often feel difficult and overwhelming. When we do find the time it’s often fleeting, and we’re bogged down by distraction.

Those called to creation understand this on a very personal level. Obligations already eat away at the narrow slivers of time from which we hone our craft. And the siren call of distraction is always there to lure us away. Occupying oneself into idleness is easy. At the end of the day, the week, the month, the year one looks back and find themselves unfulfilled and wonders: what happened?


In the struggle of creation, eventually, the creator must learn to say ‘no.’


In the struggle of creation, eventually, the creator must learn to say ‘no.’ At first, it’s terrifying. In our culture of ‘yes’ a word like ‘no’ sounds final. (It’s not, but that doesn’t matter.) Your friends won’t get it. The family won’t understand. Entertainment and Social Media hate hearing ‘no,’ they feed off distraction. Our phones are abuzz with alerts demanding attention. The 24-hour news cycle wants you to believe everything is a crisis. Click ‘yes’ to receive alerts for this random website. It’s endless. Empathy for the creator—when it exists at all—is ephemeral. Dreams and drives get brushed aside as frivolous whims. Oh, that. That’s just a hobby. Nothing will come of that. Do that instead. Watch this. Come here. Go there. Play this. Guilt and shame are wielded with selfish abandon. But it’s for you! They say when really it’s for them.


It was so dumb I had to do it.

Facing those pressures is difficult. We’ve all crumbled and given in, and those slivers of time are lost forever. You don’t get them back. Hence, the lesson of ‘no.’ Learning to say ‘no’ allows us to set boundaries. It establishes what is important and it set priorities. It’s the first step in building a routine, making the work habitual, and living in the moment.

To be effective ‘no’ is something every creator has to master. Shut out the distractions. No, Twitter isn’t important. No, you don’t need to watch that latest reboot on Netflix. No, you don’t need to make that phone call. No, brunch isn’t necessary this weekend. Face the pressure head on, stand your ground, and make the choices for what matters to you. It’s important for our mental health. It’s important for the work. It’s important for creation. ‘No’ lets us carve out moments in time, and after all, time is the true medium.


Dead Drop: Missives from the desk of K. M. Alexander

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Farewell Facebook

Farewell Facebook

Today, I clicked delete on my Facebook account. It was a long time coming, and I’m not sad to see it go. Facebook has become a behemoth in the last decade, an irresponsible behemoth that created unethical systems used to prey on its users. Participation felt like a taciturn approval, and I didn’t want to validate that sort of behavior any longer.

For creators, Facebook has changed. A once vibrant landscape has slowly walled creators off onto Pages where our projects and content was no longer seen by the very people who were interested. It began to urge us to “boost posts”—five dollars here or a ten spot there. But boosted posts rarely returned worthwhile engagement. Promoting Pages often yielded poor results—likes and shares from shell accounts generated by click farms. Practices Facebook claims don’t exist, but the evidence says otherwise. I’ve watched friends with thousands and thousands of followers grow frustrated as engagement slipped away and the site became a meaningless money pit.

It was also a distraction. Yet one more place to waste time doing nothing. Over the last few years, I’ve shifted away from social media and doubled down on blogging. I love this blog. Here I control my content. If anyone wants to see what I am working on they just have to visit. I share newsphotos, thoughts, and opinions all the time. I get traffic. I get emails from readers. It’s not hidden by algorithms or walled off on some buried Page. It’s all accessible, and that’s glorious. It’s the old web, sure, but it’s reliable.

Things can always change. Microsoft isn’t the same company it was in the 90s. Apple isn’t the same company it was in the late-80s. Facebook ten years from now will be different than it is today. Under new leadership perhaps Facebook could turn things around quickly, but in the meantime, I’m not holding my breath, and I’m not wasting my time. I got books to write.


Dead Drop: Missives from the desk of K. M. AlexanderWant to stay in touch with me? Sign up for Dead Drop, my rare and elusive newsletter. Subscribers get news, previews, and notices on my books before anyone else delivered directly to their inbox. I work hard to make sure it’s not spammy and full of interesting and relevant information.  SIGN UP TODAY →

Our Autobiography

Monuments to Ourselves

Which is the truth, the biography or the autobiography? Certainly, one could argue that both are true, but both are often quite contradictory of the other. Two people can experience the same event and come away with a different understanding. The same goes for how we perceive ourselves and how others perceive us. One’s own perception isn’t necessarily truth. Everyone is the hero of their own story, and few see themselves as a villain. We build monuments to ourselves, not acknowledging that our sole perspective on what is right, just, and correct is tainted by our own personal history, experience, and emotion.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the concept of personal and external perception within the age of social media. The curated life has become commonplace. We architect a presence online as an extension of our personal brand. We mold it to present ourselves a certain way. It’s not just artists, personalities, and celebrities: everyone does it. Are our lives always the brightly lit brunch photos, snarky tweets, smile-filled vacation pictures, reshared articles, and moody black-and-white urban landscape? We curate reality, sculpting ourselves as we would like to be seen—we write an online autobiography in posts, tweets, snaps, grams, and selfies—but is that the truth?

Often we’ll hide blemishes and strive to present ourselves without scars. We’ll argue, insult, defend, mock, pressure, praise, congratulate, and compliment, all in an attempt to manipulate reality for our comfort. It is the defense of our truth, our castle doctrine of individuality. Given a chance, we’ll dictate others perceptions. I’m not that way, I’m this way. See? Look here. Look how happy I am, we’ll say. Look how sophisticated. Look how woke. Look how outrageous. Look how indifferent. Look how successful. Look how offensive or offended. Look how cool and chill. Look how thoughtful and considerate. Look. Look. Look.

What if someone’s perception differs? What if they look but see something else? What if they reject our perceptions? What if they see something other than our desired presentation? What if the monument is cracked and tarnished? What if the biography tells a different story from the autobiography? Does that make it any less correct? Does that make it any less true?


📷 Photo credit: Mobilus In Mobili via Flickr


Dead Drop: Missives from the desk of K. M. AlexanderWant to stay in touch with me? Sign up for Dead Drop, my rare and elusive newsletter. Subscribers get news, previews, and notices on my books before anyone else delivered directly to their inbox. I work hard to make sure it’s not spammy and full of interesting and relevant information.  SIGN UP TODAY →

Why Am I Stepping Back From Twitter?

Why Am I Stepping Back From Twitter?

Like everything, this begins with a story. Recently, I started reading Patrick O’Brian’s Master and Commander, and I’m enjoying it so far. He begins the book with an author’s note explaining how he bends history to serve his narrative. In this introduction, he states that while the book is thoroughly researched, he takes creative liberties in regard to historical figures and battles. (Though I usually find such forewords unnecessary in historical fiction, I appreciated O’Brian’s care, and I know some Royal Navy enthusiasts probably did as well.)

“My point is that the admirable men of those times, the Cochranes, Byrons, Falconers, Seymours, Boscawens and the many less famous sailors from whom I have in some degree compounded my characters, are best celebrated in their own splendid actions rather than in imaginary contests; that authenticity is a jewel; and that the echo of their words has an abiding value.”

—Patrick O’Brian, Author’s Note, Master and Commander

Whenever I start a new book, especially one as lauded as Master and Commander, I do a quick Google search about it. I’m not sure why I do this. Sometimes, it’s to find ephemera I might otherwise miss. Sometimes, it reveals little details not mentioned in the prose. Sometimes, I want to check out maps or illustrations that are not in my copy of the book. Over the course of the search, I stumbled across another book claiming to be the real story of the real master and commander. I have forgotten the title, and, to be honest, it’s not relevant. However, I found it amusing. Here was a book written and published decades years after O’Brian’s novel that pretended to be a response to it. Its author ignored O’Brian’s foreword completely and was like, “NO! You need to tell the REAL history of the Royal Navy’s heroes!”

Which now leads to Twitter. While at a BBQ, I was explaining to a friend how I found this amusing. His comment (I’m paraphrasing): “Funny, that’s like Twitter but before Twitter, and the guy actually took years to write a response.”

I found that comment funny and poignant. Over the last few days, I’ve been dwelling on his statement. It’s resonated with me. In a way, it is like Twitter, but as my friend observed it’s also very different. You see, Twitter removes that time in between. It gives us an instant connection for good or ill. Twitter lets us respond so quickly—we often don’t realize how our comment will make others feel. We don’t take the time to write a well-honed response, we just react. We laude. We celebrate. We resist. We obey. We re-tweet. We sub-tweet. We call out. We insult. We cast aspersion. We make accusations based on 140 characters and a profile picture. Twitter has ceased being a conversation and has become the mass reacting to one another. We’re no longer listening, which means we’re no longer responding.

I don’t want to do that. I’ve seen what the toxic nature of reaction-culture can do to communities. I’m not interested in playing those games any longer. This is why I’m going to shift the majority of my thought back to the humble blog. For me, this format forces solicitude and introspection. It makes me slow down, and it tempers. I never published posts the day I write them (even this one)—I let them sit and simmer which in turn discourages knee-jerk reaction. I have drafts of posts I’ll never publish because I wrote them while my ire was up. That’s a good thing. It lets me get those emotions out without dragging someone else down. It’s therapeutic in a way.

The biggest trick of social media, like Twitter and Facebook, is that you need to be on social media to somehow be successful. It’s a lie. Yes, you need a web presence, and you need to be on social media, but you don’t need to let it control you. There’s a big difference in running a business online versus throwing yourself into the volatile social media landscape. Humanity is just now starting to see where the latter leads, and I’m choosing a different path.


TL;DR—So, what does this all mean?
  • Well, first off, I’m not deleting my Twitter account or anything like that. I still run a business and Twitter is a part of that, and it’s an important part. After all, I gotta keep the lights on and the bills paid.

  • This blog is my primary platform; it’s where I’ll be doing most of my thinkin’. So while I will be posting more links elsewhere (probably a lot of links.) Most of those links will bring you back to here. Likewise, instead of writing Twitter threads, I’ll be writing posts. Posts are easier to read anyway; Twitter is garbage for long content.

  • If you’re interested in continuing to follow me here are a few options:
    • Do nothing and keep following me on Twitter; I’ll continue to post links to news and blog articles there. But my content will primarily live here.

    • Click the “Follow” button in the footer to follow my blog via e-mail.

    • Follow me on Facebook where I also share news and articles.

    • Subscribe to my newsletter; that’s what the cool kids do. It’s where I share news about my books and preview secret stuff like sales and giveaways.

You Could Prove Nothing

“Sometimes indeed, you could put your finger on a definite lie. It was not true, for example, as was claimed in the Party history books, that the Party had invented aeroplanes. He remembered aeroplanes since his earliest childhood. But you could prove nothing.”

1984, George Orwell


I’m finishing up my year of reading classics and George Orwell’s 1984 has been striking close to home. Especially regarding our recent election here in the United States, the fluid nature of truth as it pertains to facts, and the interplay of old and new media. It’s still a poignant read.

Friday Link Pack 4/18/2014

Cover Reveal Coming Soon

It’s time to share a few interesting links I have found throughout the week. Some of these I mention on Twitter, if you’re not already following me there, please do! Have a link I should feature in the upcoming link pack? Let me know!

Writing:

The 10 Commandments of Social Media Etiquette for Writers
Really appreciated seeing this article on from Anne R. Allen. I want to shout this link from the rooftops. I see so many writers on Twitter, Facebook, okay basically everywhere that break these rules and they end up looking well…less than professional. All 10 are very good. Learn ’em and live ’em.

Old Broken Road Cover Reveal Coming April 29th
Get excited! Only 10 days until the cover for Old Broken Road is revealed. Remember those who subscribe to my newsletter will see it before anyone else, as we all know that ups their radness by a factor of 10.

Lessons Learned From A Game Changing London Book Fair 2014
I try to not post back-to-back links from the same blog every week, but Joanna Penn‘s thoughts around this years London Book Fair were really good. Highly recommended.

10 Bits of Career Advice for a High School Artist
I debated putting this here or under the art section. I chose here. I think this is good advice for ANYONE working in a creative field.

The Stars Were (STILL) $2.99
I’m (still) having a sale! For a limited time ebook editions of The Stars Were Right can be purchased for only $2.99! Grab a copy today.

Random:

Pointer Pointer
It points. (Just try it. You’ll see.)

13 Places on Earth People Believed Were Entrances to Hell
io9 breaks down 13 places people once thought were entrances to the underworld. (Some of those entrances are oddly beautiful. Looking at you Fengdu.)

Tricorder Project
Follow a team working towards building a functioning tricorder. Yes, a real tricorder. Like from Star Trek.

Lovecraft Story of the Week:

Beyond the Wall of Sleep
Turn of the century mental hospitals can be frightening places.

Farewell Gif of the Week:

It doesn't get much better than this.