What does being a literary citizen mean to me? Well to be honest, some days it just means getting up and writing something when every part of my mind is screaming to just go back to bed.
But I can’t spend my whole life in bed (and honestly who would want to anyways?). So I tell my cat I have to get up (finally find the will to make the cat move from where they were sleeping on my arm 2 hours later), take the dog out, make some coffee, and sit down to work on… something. Some days it is popping open that book I couldn’t set down the night before and stayed up way to late to keep reading (also often the reason I want to sleep in). Other days it is because I woke up with a question or a quote in my head. Something like “What happens when the River Styx dries up?” that spurs on a creative short story or urges me to write another chapter in one of the novels I’ve been working on. And then there are the days where I sit at my computer and stare blankly at Facebook, scrolling through feeds to laugh or glower at one post after another until my brain has turned to putty and my emotions have been taxed to a point that I find I’ve already lost 10 spoons for the day just scrolling through a site that most people find enjoyable and many are down right addicted to. (If you aren’t familiar with spoon theory click here to learn more.)
Social media has often been an exhausting endeavor for me, but mostly because I was just browsing and never actually engaging. By just looking at things people shared or posted and rarely (if ever) commenting on them or even posting original content myself, I was missing out on the most interesting part of social media. I suppose that should be obvious, I mean if you’re not socializing on social media then what are you doing? But hey, I’m an introvert and socializing tends to come pretty hard for me, and not because I don’t want to. I like being around people and having a good time. As an introvert I sometimes have to take time away from all the social activities to recharge, but the thing I struggle most with is just plain figuring out what to say. Social anxiety makes it hard to come up with anything that I feel is worth saying or that can actually help me carry a conversation. All too often by the time I finally think of something to say the moment is long past and the conversation has moved on.
On the bright side, this actually makes social media ideal for someone like me. With social media I have all the time I need to come up with something to say and respond without it looking like the reaction was terribly delayed and without my tongue deciding to try and turn itself into a pretzel. I knew when I joined a class on Literary Citizenship that we would be working on skills to build social media and blogging presence, and while I was determined to develop these skills it scared the every living hell out of me. I felt for certain that I would be struggling each step of the way and turn into a ball of nerves. The thought of having to actually start a blog or trying to make connections with other people in the writing community felt like an anxiety attack waiting to happen, but as it turns out it wasn’t all that bad.
I was surprised how often a simple act like just Following someone on Twitter would earn a reciprocal action or how easy it was form a Tweet which the person or organization it was directed at responds to, Shares, or Likes. I felt happy just sending out little Charming Notes to authors I appreciate. Even if they never respond, it feels good to know someone else might have felt appreciated or smiled even if just for a moment reading that little note. And regardless of whether or not that note meant something to them or if it was just one simple note among hundreds or even thousands they’ve seen before, it still helped me get excited to start reading again. In turn feeling excited about reading encourages me to keep participating in the community, which really it what literary citizenship is all about.
Being a literary citizen means so much more than just what one person gets out of it. It isn’t just publishing works or making connections, it’s supporting a community where emotions and stress run high, and everyone could use a good laugh or even just a moment or two to feel like the person they are and the work they produce is valued. What I want to do is to try and bring just a little more of that to the community whether through my social media activity or the posts I make on this blog, and with any hope, I can encourage others to do so too. Turns out, being a literary citizen isn’t that scary after all. :3