I used to have a YouTube channel when I was in library school. Or maybe not a channel, but I recorded and uploaded videos every so often at How I Feel About Books.
Video isn’t really my format—I do much better with text. But I’ve done a few readings for my chapbook and wanted to use the audio in some way. So I decided to create some videos for a few of the to celebrate my book’s two month anniversary.
You can check them out HERE.
I now spend the first of the month eagerly awaiting the image shared by Visual Verse. You have an hour to write a micro or flash ranging from 50 to 500 words, based on or inspired by the image. I’ve always felt like such a visual writer anyway, with a scene or person encouraging me to make up a story, and so far I’ve been so inspired by their images.
I’m honored that they’re sharing my piece, “Colors in the Air,” this month.
With everyone wondering what will happen after Twitter dies, I keep thinking back over my internet experience. It doesn’t hurt that I’m also in the middle of an extracurricular essay for March Fadness, which requires me to revisit my high school years in a way that completely consumes me, as the internet consumed high school me twenty years ago.
My family got internet when I was in 8th grade. I’d already experienced AOL via CD-ROM at a friend’s house, popping into chat rooms to lie about A/S/L and pretend we were interested in what strangers had to say. By the time our home desktop wired into Roadrunner cable, I was obsessed with Saturday Night Live, when Jimmy Fallon was merely a featured player and Chris Kattan ruled (shhh, let me have my delusions) as Mango and Mr. Peepers. There was a website, nbc.com/snl, which had bare-bones information about last week’s show and, amazingly, a strange hybrid of a chat room and message board. You didn’t need an account to post, which means anyone could use your screen name and pretend to be you, understandably causing much drama. But it was a fun community, and I made friends (and met my first internet boyfriend!, and just boyfriend-boyfriend!!) on that site.
I eventually found my way to diary-x, where I read so many cool journals that I needed to start one of my own. But since everyone seemed just as untouchable as the classmates I avoided at school, I couldn’t be myself. My time on diary-x marks a major instance of me being what you might call a “catfish” online, though I didn’t do it to try and meet anyone. I just wanted my life to sound more exciting than it was. I wrote about extracurriculars I didn’t participate in and parties I wasn’t invited to.
I found my way to LiveJournal when I was searching for Aerosmith fan sites. I found a user called “RagDoll13,” and, in my 13-year-old mind, I was sure she was a fan of the song from Aerosmith’s Permanent Vacation album. (At the time, I did not know what else rag doll could mean.) I excitedly commented on one of her posts detailing an experience she had with a man she met at her job as a drugstore clerk. She immediately posted about not realizing minors were reading her journal and went private. So I started a journal of my own, as myself. And another, when I needed a new username. And again. (It seemed easier to start fresh as opposed to spending money on a rename token.)
I made friends on LiveJournal, two that I’m still close to these days. I liked the sense of community, the way it was so easy to pour your heart out and people would comment kindly and that was that, you were friends. I also liked the literal communities, which you could find based on your interests. I met my two life-long friends on the Seinfeld and Mitch Hedberg groups.
I also connected with real friends on LiveJournal. It was almost our social media site before there was MySpace. A group of seven or eight friends all had LiveJournals and would post about our weekend plans. It was how I found out that no one liked my high school boyfriend, how I learned about privacy settings, how we grew apart. I remember posting on LiveJournal as late as 2008, even while I had a MySpace profile.
I remember trying to make a Facebook account like my new boyfriend had, but he went to a “real” university and I was in community college, so my email address wasn’t eligible. I eventually went to a “real” university and made a Facebook account and posted someecard memes to my friend and later roommate that still make me laugh today. That site was my distraction when I should have been writing papers, which I instead crammed into one all-night session and still got all As, so I’ve never learned my lesson.
Somewhere in the mix of leaving LiveJournal and joining Facebook, I created a blog that was more about writing, or attempting to be a writer. My roommate read it, and yet another boyfriend. Then I started to get more followers, over 100(!!!) at one point, thanks to blogging challenges and guest posts and Google Reader. It was during the time when you stopped using a screen name online and started using your real name. Sometimes I still miss creating a clever name that encapsulates my interests of the moment, but overall, it’s nice to be me.
I joined Twitter somewhere in this time, but I didn’t have a smartphone so I had to text tweets to a five-digit Twitter number while I was at work and hope it posted and made sense. I considered a group of friends there my “morning show” because we tweeted at each other every morning on our ways to work. Then I spent the morning drinking coffee and reading blogs on Google Reader, quickly clicking away when my boss walked by or a coworker poked their head into my cubicle. I spent the day thinking about funny things I could write about for a blog post. As I got more comfortable in that job, I simply started blogging at work—why wait until I got home? There’s something so comforting and cozy thinking about work life and blogs back in 2007-2011, isn’t there?
Google Reader closed and I never got the hang of anything else – Feedly? BlogHer? I can’t even remember now because they couldn’t compare. Some friends still blogged. Some started making podcasts. I got pregnant and didn’t want to be a mommy blogger, so I just… stopped. Stopped writing completely.
I’ve thought about using this space a LiveJournal/Blogger type situation before, when I first started it up. But I had a full-time job outside the home then, and was still healing from my divorce (as wonderful as divorce can be when you initiate it yourself, it’s still a major adjustment), so writing regularly, and personally, was a big ask. But more often than not I find myself thinking about my experience with the internet and the connections I’ve made.
I want LiveJournal again, though it will never be the same as it was when I was 16 and unafraid of spilling my personal life all over the internet. I want a Twitter morning show even though I don’t follow those people anymore. I want a blog where I’m not uncomfortably aware of the myriad ways someone could snark on everything I post about my trivial days. So I’m stuck in this weird limbo where I think this blog should be professional(ish) and only share serious updates and publication news. I go back and forth between treating Twitter like a networking site and a place where I can drunk-tweet every thought that crosses my mind. And I use Instagram to post pictures of books I’ve read and, of course, my cat. I’m left without an outlet to really spill my thoughts, which is probably best for everyone involved.
CLOSED! Thank you to everyone who entered and shared the giveaway on Twitter and Instagram. Lauren Voeltz is the winner!
I can’t believe my book has been in the world for one month now! So many friends have posted pictures on social media and shared their favorite stories. Oh, and David Sedaris has a copy of it! I went to his reading last week and gave him a copy at the signing. He asked what it was about and said “I look forward to reading it.” !!!
To celebrate, I’m hosting a giveaway. You’ll get a signed copy of the book, a super-cool Venus tea trap, and two delicious teas from my favorite companies.
The Pomegranate Punch Decaf Black Tea from Plum Deluxe has a fresh citrus flavor mirroring the clementine from my story “Lost and Found.”
The Firebird chai from Wendigo Tea will make you feel “Electric Inside” like the first story in the book.
Contest open until Saturday, October 29th, at midnight Central time. I’ll announce the winner on Sunday!
My micro, “A Love Story in Pantoum,” was shortlisted by Visual Verse!
I wrote this inspired both by the image and from Sarah Freligh’s micro class, where her last prompt asked us to use a poetry form for a micro or flash piece. I’m honored it was shortlisted for the Visual Verse contest!
This story is based on an experience I had when I was traveling the US alone in 2011. Back then I blogged on Allison Writes (see how “grown up” I am with Allison Renner Writes is now?!) and shared the true story. When Misery Tourism announced they were closing up shop, I knew I had to shoot my shot.
I went to the site and the randomizer told me “How about submitting a Randian objectivist tabletop game about death, you fucking misanthrope?” So I used the framework of that trip and added some game/Choose Your Own Adventure elements.
I’m excited to announce I’ll be reading with some AMAZING writers I work with at Split/Lip Press! The reading is online via Zoom on Tuesday, November 1st at 7p CT. Hope you see you there!
I met Janet Dale in a fiction writing workshop in 2009 and we became friends and writing partners. We’ve written together, edited together, and collaborated on many pieces. We wrote a chapbook together and are currently working on another series of pieces for a collection.
Her poetry chapbook ghosts passing through came out on September 6th, and I celebrated her book birthday here. You need to grab a copy of her book! She has a fiction background, as you can tell from how we met. But she also writes CNF along with poetry, so you get a bit of everything in this chapbook.
These poems are haunting memories you grasp for and miss but can never forget. Dale relates love, loss, and memory to science, physics, and outer space. Poems include Morse code and inspiration from Buzz Aldrin and Sylvia Plath, which gives you an idea of the diversity in this volume.– me
Read the kind words she has to say about Won’t Be By Your Side here.
Today’s the day! My debut chapbook, Won’t Be By Your Side, is out from Alien Buddha Press. Get your copy here and share a photo with me! Check out all these sightings in the wild…
Visit the publisher’s spotlight to read the first story in the collection. You can also listen to me read it aloud on the recorded reading. My section starts at the 53-minute mark, and I read 3 other stories.