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the everyman memoirs

The official blog of author Tali Nay.

The Smart Phone Dilemma


Well, I think it's almost time, folks. Almost time for me to get a Smart phone. I've resisted for many reasons, most notably that I don't want to become dependent on it or spend more of my life than I already do online. To be honest, I find it discouraging to look around the room at a party or around the table at a restaurant and see every single person staring at their phone. I'd rather talk and enjoy people's company now and look up videos and sports scores later. So I worry I'll become one of these people who uses their phone constantly simply because it's there.

To be clear, this is exactly what will happen to me once I take the plunge (I'm not sure there's a way around it), but what's got me almost to the point of getting one anyway is that despite turning into a Smart phone zombie, I can still see several benefits to having one. The ability to text pictures (without having to pay for them) is high on the list, as is the ability to email pictures and even upload them to, say, Twitter. Right now I don't have any Insta-gram type of capabilities, and while I know this seems like a lot of picture-ish reasons, I confess that the ability to capture and share moments as they come up is surprisingly important to me. Other things like no longer having to print boarding passes would be pretty neat, and even though I'm not sure I'll ever be the kind of person who has to look up a YouTube video at the precise moment someone tells me about it, the internet would probably come in handy sometimes when out and about.

So now it's just a matter of pulling the trigger. Well, that, and what phone to actually get. I'm overwhelmed at the very thought. Any suggestions?


Why Twitter Trumps Facebook


I don't have a smart phone. Expression of regret. This significantly limits my social media time to about five minutes a day, but even with only that, I now prefer to spend them on Twitter. Here's why.

Facebook (which I joined while in grad school) is primarily a keeping-tabs-on-people device. I loved how many people I was able to reconnect with, and I still appreciate the connectedness that Facebook provides. It's there that I post a few pictures after returning from a trip so my friends and relatives can see what I've been up to, and I likewise enjoy scanning my feed for the pics my friends have posted. Otherwise I would probably have no idea who of them are getting married, having new babies, or vacationing in the same places I am. (I recently saw on FB that my aunt and uncle in Oregon were going to be in DC the same time I was, so we met up.)

Twitter is likewise a connection vehicle, but it has the added benefit of actually being useful; of actually making you better and leaving you more informed on subjects you find interesting. Granted, I'm a new user who has admitted to only spending a few moments logged in each day, but I am constantly amazed at both how valuable and useful I find the content that the people I follow post. These people are agents, authors, publishers, readers. Most of their very livelihoods center around books and writing, and even down to the writerly humor, I eat it all up and then want more. I only hope that one day I can be as helpful to followers. I also hope one day to actually have followers. Maybe it takes more than five minutes a day. And maybe I need a smart phone.


Throwback: Yellow Wallpaper


It's a funny thing, Twitter. I'm one of the worst users ever, as I don't have a smart phone, am hardly ever logged in, tweet rarely, and feel sort of silly in this "you have no followers" stage which I really see no end to. But, I digress. Because the reason I brought up Twitter was to mention how amazing it is to be connected (even if only on a one side basis) to pretty much anyone you wish to be. Publishers, agents, celebrities, authors. Why just yesterday I came across a tweet by Joyce Carol Oates (Joyce Carol Oates, people!) and immediately added her to the list of people I follow. To sum up, I now follow Joyce Carol Oates. She says something, I see it. Talk about an impressive vehicle of connection.

But the reason I was struck by this particular tweet of Joyce's was her mentioning the short story "Yellow Wallpaper." Former English students of the world, do you remember this story? I sure do. In fact, there might be nothing that could have more instantly brought me back to my days as a university student. Short stories were my first love. Spending semester after semester reading Kate Chopin, Flannery O'Connor, William Faulkner (remember "A Rose for Emily"?), and of course Charlotte Perkins Gilman made me want to do nothing with my life except write equally intriguing fiction.

Poetry blew me in another direction, and now I've jumped ship completely in the name of non-fiction, but I guess what I want to know is what happened to the short story? Is it still around, stronger than ever, and I simply haven't been paying attention? Are there still stunners like "The Lottery" being written? The last contemporary story I read and truly loved was published in an issue of The Georgia Review over ten years ago, so it's probably time I got back into it. I have JCO to thank for reminding me. Or maybe it's Twitter to whom I owe this gratitude. Either way, I'll mention it when I get around to logging back in. Maybe this weekend.


Writing vs. Selling

While in the hallway this morning at work, a woman who knows about my book (is she my anonymous pen pal??) asked me how sales were. And the answer, in a word, is slow. Which I can hardly expect them not to be. She reminded me that all it takes is one reader, one endorsement, one opportunity in order for sales to take off. This of course is true, and nothing I haven't thought of before, but bringing us back down to reality, I have to work and market as if it's all up to me. Because it is.

The annoying thing about it being all up to me is that I don't know much about book marketing, nor do I have much of any free time in which to do it. And like most writers, when I finally do have free time, I'd rather be writing. Of course, as someone recently asked me when I sounded discouraged, "Is selling tons of copies the reason why you write?" Which, of course, it isn't. I write because I love it, and because I can't not write. That said, I would certainly rather be selling tons of copies than not selling them.

Not sure what my point here is, other than that selling books is just much harder than I thought it would be, and that I am much less adept at it than I should be. And even though I know I probably should have spent my free morning yesterday trolling for twitter followers, I spent it doing some writing for my next book. And I know most of you won't agree with me, but I believe my time was better spent in doing so. (Said the author who had no readers.)


Lessons from Tristan Prettyman


It's hard to call her a newcomer when she's got a few albums out there already, yet I doubt most people have heard of her until now. I only heard about her (earlier this year) because someone introduced me to her music. And now I've seen her twice in concert and find that I like her sound better than most other performers I'm hearing these days. And this is something I think about a lot; this whole idea of an artist pounding the pavement for years and eventually gaining enough momentum to have a following. It's something few I'd-really-like-to-be-a-rock-star dreamers achieve, so when I see it happening, I can't help but applaud. I've enjoyed watching the same thing happen to Neon Trees. I attended the same university (at the same time) as their drummer, and seeing her and her band mates play show after show in that university town, I always admired their persistence when the odds of industry success were pretty slim. And look at them now.

After her performance last night, Tristan greeted each and every person who wanted to meet her. The line snaked through the lobby, and she took the time to sign every autograph, take each picture, and have a host of conversations with chatty fans. Not every artist does this. Heck, not ANY artists do this. Granted, she's not exactly an A-lister, so it's actually feasible for her to do this and not be signing autographs for days straight. But especially when you are toward the starting end of building your following, think about how important it is to put in this effort. Now each one of those people who she met last night will fill their Twitter and Facebook pages with their "me and Tristan" pics and tell everyone about how gracious and friendly she was. They are super-fans in the making.

Of course while standing in line I was fantasizing about someday having a line of people waiting to meet me, even though right now I can usually count on one hand the number of people (who I don't already know) who come to my book signings specifically to see me. It's pretty sad. And I'll probably never have the following that Tristan has, although in my defense, authors are far less glamorous than performers, and let's not forget that I don't do this full time. As much as I would like to. At any rate, last night was a great show, and it makes me happy to see others realizing life-long dreams. Not that doing a show in Cleveland is the dream, but doing a show anywhere and knowing there will be people lined up to meet you, to buy your stuff, and to write sappy blog posts about it the next day. That, my friends, is the dream.