Renee Barnes Addresses the Wisdom of Farmville and a Career in Non-Fiction
Someone asked me why I don’t play Facebook aps anymore. I made a remark about time and my lack of it, but there’s a little more to it than that. I’m growing up. No, I didn’t say playing games is childish. The fact is, I believe everyone needs a little playtime.
I used my Farmville time as a chance for my mind to wander and put things together in new and different patterns. The pieces eventually fell into their appropriate places and I found I no longer needed the distraction. I grew out of it.
I’ve called myself a writer for several years now. I’ve written, edited, submitted, promoted, networked, and conferenced with the best of them. (Is conferenced a verb?) The point is, I’ve devoted an awful lot of my time, effort, and even my identity to the fact that I am a writer.
There have been several bumps along the way. Hard times that forced me to grow and change, either become stronger or give up. I’m still here and have no intention of tucking tail or looking for a corner.
I write because that’s who I am. When I’m filled with joy, I put it on paper. When I am buried in anguish, eventually that works it’s way out in words, too. If these past years have taught me anything it’s this – A writer isn’t a writer because she writes, a writer writes because she is a writer.
Along the way I’ve noticed a few other things, too.
1. Fiction is not the only option a writer has.
When a person hears you’re a writer, their first question is, “Have you published any books?” They don’t want to hear you’ve written a humor column or that you’ve contributed to an instructional e-book. They want to hear about some steamy romance or a spine tingling thriller. Non-fiction isn’t even on the radar. But most writing is non-fiction.
2. Promotion is the largest part of a writer’s job.
No matter what you write or how you approach publishing, in today’s writing world, like it or not, you have to be ready, willing, and able to get out there and sell. In fact, novelists are expected to start selling their persona before they even finish writing the book. This is called establishing a “platform” or “brand” and if we want success, we all have to do it, to some degree.
3. Lots of writers are overtly shy.
Let’s face it, talkers talk and writers write. Oh, don’t get me wrong, there are writers who could mesmerized a crowded auditorium by explaining the idiosyncrasies of laundry lint. (Grizzard comes to mind.) Others would rather take a needle to the eye than hold a press conference. The rest fall somewhere in between.
So where does this leave those of us who don’t really want to write a novel, would rather promote online and who fit into the needle in the eye category?
Well, I can’t speak for all of us, but “I” have chosen to write non-fiction, for now.
I have a very specific knowledge that’s in growing demand, namely: “Living a simple but fulfilling life on a very limited income.” I’ve been in training for this all my life. My grandmother was a wonderful teacher. She taught reduce, reuse and recycle before Earth Day was ever thought of. Her lifestyle is soul cleansing, spiritually uplifting –and cheap.
With the current economic instability, more and more families are in real need of this invaluable information. Some have never known what it’s like to look at a price tag –the nouveau po,’ they really have no idea how to live without money. Others have always lived paycheck to paycheck and just can’t take another hit.
My aim is to educate and provide moral support for those in need of my grandmother’s particular brand of genius.
It took a lot of time playing in Farmville for me to figure out how to pull it all together, but I did.
Sometimes growing up is really growing out. Luckily, my new writing path is one I am already very comfortable with. I’ve been walking down it for a long time.