Rare is the person who is unaware of the dire situation in Japan. Heartbreaking footage has been everywhere since the devastating 8.9 quake hit on March 11. Images of the tsunami that followed swiftly on the quake’s heels struck a stunned silence around the world. Collectively, we shook our heads; the destruction left it its wake seemed insurmountable. Many still believe that any donation they send would be a negligible drop in vast, leaky bucket. These notions, however, are simply not true.
Even the smallest donation could be used right away. Please consider it. Imagine the current state of one of the hundreds of thousands of people that lost absolutely everything; what would even a single one of your dollars mean to that person? It could become a bottle of some clean drinking water, or some much-needed food. You can easily provide this.
Of course, you want to know that the money you send will be used immediately, and not hindered by the inevitable red tape, right?
Might I suggest, then, that you donate directly to a Japanese emergency NGO? They will receive your money immediately, and you can rest assured that your dollars will be available to them when their need is greatest: right now. If you donate to a non-Japanese organization (or have already donated to an agency that’s based outside of Japan), keep in mind that it may take a little longer to process and send out your donations, so although your money WILL get to the victims in Japan, it could take weeks or months before your donation actually gets there. It’s not that it isn’t worthwhile to donate to these organizations; it’s just that the help sometimes takes a little longer to arrive.
Remember, to make your money count right away, donate directly to a NGO in Japan. You’ll be sending your money straight to the heart of the relief effort, and not through any outside, circuitous routes. The following Japanese organization, JEN (Japan Emergency NGOs), has recently set their website up in English, and accepts credit card donations in increments of 1,000 Japanese Yen (1000 Yen is equivalent to about $12 Canadian). Go to: http://www.jen-npo.org/en/involved/donate1.php
For a listing of more agencies that can utilize your funds right away, visit http://japanvolunteers.wordpress.com/overseas/
Please give what you can, and in the meantime, let’s not forget how fortunate we are when we lay down to sleep tonight; there’s food in our stomachs, a roof over our heads, and our loved ones are safe.
Everyone, through their own experiences and within their own lives, acutely knows that time is a limited commodity. There’s a finite amount within each given day, which we all balance, manage, juggle and shuffle as we work to accomplish the many tasks that tend to fill a busy life. Enter social media, and the remaining time in a person’s day tends to be sucked away into a pervasive blogging, tweeting, Facebooking vacuum.
Now don’t get me wrong, I quite enjoy many aspects of Social Media. It connects me with my friends and raises social and business networking to a whole new level. Above that, this series of tools has a scope of influence that, 30 years ago, would have been like the Holy Grail to anyone wishing to increase their visibility or market a product. And now it’s at my fingertips. So I use it. A lot.
But there is a conflict. Like a good number of writers (and most other people on the planet), I have a day job. Yet what is unique to many artists, our true calling takes hold of us in the evening hours, once we have attended to the necessity of earning a living during the day. So this is the time that I use to write, revise, research, compose queries, and jot notes. It is a time that I look forward to, and which is absolutely essential if I am expecting to get anywhere at all with my writing.
However, something else has now eaten up that precious evening time. Social media. I understand the necessities of the thing; after all, a writer without readers is like an actor without an audience. I need to market my name as much as I need to market my writing. I know that social media, if utilized properly, can make this possible. But I also know that it demands much of my time if it is to be at all effective. And herein lies the conflict.
Social media has become like a needy child, constantly needing to be fed and attended to. It will not lie quietly. If I neglect it for a day, the messages pile up, demanding my attention. If I leave it for a longer time period, its effectiveness wanes, and I risk losing some of that visibility that I had been working so hard to establish.
So even though social media does help me, it also sucks the life from the very thing I am using it to promote. My writing. My evenings, which were once the domain of my writing hours, are now filled with responding to messages, blogging, tweeting and other forms of networking. When I finally finish with these tools, I find that I have no time left. My writing lays neglected.
The irony of this has not been lost on me.
I am sure that there is something I can do. There are any number of experts out there that can take over certain aspects of promotion for me. But there is a cost, of course, and I’m not certain I can afford it at this juncture. Additionally, I can look at how I manage my time, scheduling out my evening hours to ensure I always have time set aside for my writing. Naturally, that would require me actually sticking to the plan, and would necessitate letting some of my social media routines slip. Although it’ll mean that I’ll lose some visibility on the web, this plan seems like my most viable option.
In any case, it’s an interesting problem, and one that I’m certain is not unique to my situation. I often wonder how pervasive this is, and what other writers do to work around the time demands of social media.
But as for myself, I continue to compose just one more message or respond to just one more tweet, as I watch the last minutes of my evenings silently drain away. Then when I sleep, I dream of writing, and it’s always with the knowledge that one day soon, we will be reunited. I just have to make the choice.
In the meantime, I must remind myself that social media is my tool and writing is my passion; not the other way around.
I haven’t been focusing on editors. In fact, I haven’t sent query letters to any editors at all. The way I figured it, if I focused my energy on securing a decent, well-known agent, then, TA-DAA! Job done. My newly acquired super-agent could approach some of the bigger publishing houses on my behalf. I wouldn’t need to query a single editor. It seemed like a decent plan, and was one I had been sticking to.
So imagine my surprise when I recently opened my email account, and there, staring back at me, was an email from an editor asking to see WORMWOOD’s first 100 pages. Wow. I read it calmly. Finished it. Stood up, walked to the kitchen. Stopped. I turned and strolled to the back deck, closed the door behind me and whooped for joy.
I met this editor at the NY Writer’s Pitch Perfect Conference (http://newyorkwritersworkshop.com/) nearly a full year ago. I had pitched my book to her there, even though WORMWOOD was incomplete at the time, and she had shown some interest. I was thrilled that she had asked to see the first three chapters (approximately 30 pages), which I sent to her in eager haste. Now, this was way back in the spring of last year, and in all that time, I had heard nothing back from her. Not a peep. So naturally, I assumed she wasn’t interested, and continued on with my life.
Without looking back, I finished the manuscript for WORMWOOD, created a website, started the PUBLISH WORMWOOD FACEBOOK GROUP (link on sidebar to your left), revised and re-worked the manuscript, started a blog, and even queried a few agents too. I worked hard to get the word out about my story and establish myself through social media, and almost forgot all about that key editor. After all, why dwell on something over which I have no control?
And that’s when it happened. It wasn’t long after I received that rejection from a rather important and established agent (in fact, I had just finished blogging about the rejection) when I heard from that elusive editor. What incredible timing! Now, she’s not even asking to see the full manuscript, so I’m staying cautiously optimistic about this whole thing, and trying to remain grounded. But really, what a surprise! Even if her answer is ‘no’, I still believe this bodes well for WORMWOOD. I’ll take it as a sign of things to come!