Thursday, June 10, 2010

A Tiny Airless Box

Excuse the randomness of this post today. I've been sick with what's called labyrinthitis, which really sucks and I feel like I'm going to puke all the time. I have puked, actually, and now I've given you way too much information. I can't be blamed. I'm disoriented and exhausted.

I wanted to share a few things with you today.

First of all, check out our new Publications tab. It's a place where we want to promote our readers' published works - short stories, poetry, self-published novels, traditionally published novels, fiction, non-fiction, going-to-be-published soon, etc. If you're not on this list and you want to be, let us know by leaving a comment or emailing us. Occasionally we'll highlight an author in a regular post.

Second, if you haven't heard of our new Notes from Underground contest, check it out! We've already received a few entries, and I'm excited.

Third, I read a post yesterday that I think you should read. Maureen Johnson writes great blog posts. She has a fresh perspective I like, and she recently wrote a post that makes a lot of sense. Ever heard of branding yourself? Yeah, maybe it's not such a great idea. Read her post, Manifesto, about social networking and branding. Here's her manifesto, but you should read the post, too, because if you don't you're missing something good.

The internet is made of people. People matter. This includes you. Stop trying to sell everything about yourself to everyone. Don’t just hammer away and repeat and talk at people—talk TO people. It’s organic. Make stuff for the internet that matters to you, even if it seems stupid. Do it because it’s good and feels important. Put up more cat pictures. Make more songs. Show your doodles. Give things away and take things that are free. Look at what other people are doing, not to compete, imitate, or compare . . . but because you enjoy looking at the things other people make. Don’t shove yourself into that tiny, airless box called a brand—tiny, airless boxes are for trinkets and dead people.

Also, she recently wrote a post about getting an MFA. We've talked about this before on The Literary Lab, so you if you've ever wondered if you need or want an MFA, go read it here: How To Get an MFA

I don't want to live in a tiny airless box, do you? I feel like what we do here is talking TO you, and I hope you feel the same way. We like interaction here, and our goal is to converse. Do you feel like we do that here?


  1. Hope you feel better soon, Michelle.
    And, yes, you definitely achieve the goal of conversation. That's why I like visiting here.
    As I've commented on other blogs, what I like about blogging is when it feels like an old-fashioned salon--a discourse, an exchange of ideas. I want interaction and stimulation. You guys deliver.
    (and I love Maureen's Manifesto)

  2. Tricia: Thanks for your well-wishes! I'm really glad to hear that we achieve the conversation status here. I feel like we know a lot of our readers like good friends, and that's a fun, fun thing for a blog.

  3. Lots of good links and your #3, really hit home for me. I've have to get the kiddos ready for school and have a busy day but am flagging your post to check out the links.

    And hey! I designed the blog link lovin' heart. I am so flattered you are using it. I feel very special :0)

  4. Sorry to hear about your labyrinthitis.

    The Literary Lab has become one of the blogs I check first every morning, though I don't think I've commented here before. And I don't feel this is "a tiny airless box" at all.

    I LOVED Maureen's Manifesto! I am not a brand, people!!!

  5. I love that manifesto. And, I hope you feel better soon!

  6. Thanks for all the links. The MFA discourse fascinated me as did the manifesto. Yes, lets talk "to" and not "at" each other.

  7. Wow; at least it has an interesting name... but I hope you recover soon!

    I think you guys are very good at conversational-ising-liness. Yes, I just made that word up.

  8. I may not always join in the conversation, but I'm always on the sidelines, listening very closely. Keep on keepin' on!!

  9. Feel better, Michelle.

    I'm always impressed by the thoughtful responses of the lady and gents at TLL - definitely creates an open atmosphere for dialogue.

  10. The idea of branding is interesting to me. Honestly, the whole business side of selling books and marketing is interesting to me. I want to do it because it feels like a game of some sort, and much of it is so separate from the actual writing. (Much but not all.) When I started Literary Lab, it was an experiment on self-promotion. But, within a couple of months I realized that I just wanted to make friends with writers were working as hard as I was and who cared as much as I did about their art. As soon as that happened the idea of marketing went away.

  11. Arrggghhhh, vertigo--arggghhhhh.... If you have vertigo, you poor thing--it soooo sucks!! I hope you're better very soon.

    In answer to your question--yes, you converse here, and it's very cool!

  12. Dana: Yeah, the Manifesto hit home for me, too. I've never thrown myself into branding, but as I prepare to self-publish a novella of mine I've been thinking about how to market, and I'm glad I read that. Hope you get to read the post!

    Linda: Yay that we're one of the first on our list! That makes my day. :)

    Christi: I'm feeling better than I did yesterday, thank you.

    Liza: The MFA one REALLY interested me, too, because I am planning on getting my MFA but not until I'm older, like in my 40's or 50's when my family is older. I think that would be a great time to get it, especially after reading her post.

    L.T.: Yeah, crazy name, huh? That's a great made-up word about conversing!

    Chuck: It's okay if you don't always join in. We're all limited on time, for sure. Glad you're listening in, and we enjoy it when you chime in.

    Bane: Yeah, the open atmosphere is what we like to keep going here. We never want anyone to feel like we're stuffy, although the word "literary" might imply that!

    Davin: Thank you for such a great comment! I think it's important to market, but in reality, I don't think online social networking is going to get us extremely far. Possibly in self-publishing it might because for my own book I'm not planning on marketing any other way, really. Still, my aim isn't a ton of sales, either. It does feel like a game, of sorts, that's true!

    I think what I've gained most out of blogging has been friendships and learning. Building a brand has never been high on my list.

    FP: Yes, it sucks a lot! I was kind of dying yesterday, but today is better. At least I can eat more today!

  13. Get well soon, Michelle. Now go lie down. Love the Publications tab - I have to buy Genre Wars. Hadn't gotten around to it. One of these years we'll all be on the publication page. Gotta think positively.

    I just read Maureen's post on brand and it is so right on. Usually when I come across someone who is simply shouting me me me all the time, I'm saying bye bye bye and walking away.

    I've been thinking about the MFA thing and at first her post on it turned me off. Then I reconsidered and realized she had some good points. Think I'll take a few writing classes first to see how I do first. Then revisit whether going to do it or not.

    Yes, you, Davin and Scott do an excellent job of stimulating conversations. There's a comfort factor - you make everyone feel welcome and are interesting in what everyone has to say.

  14. I've had labyrinthitis, so my heartfelt condolences and best wishes for a speedy recovery!

    Thanks for adding the publications tab -- much appreciated! One typo: My last name is MacKenzie, not McKenzie.

    Branding is all about marketing/selling. Fie on it. I prefer the wide-open discourse here, and as someone else said in the comments, the Literary Lab is one of the first places I go every morning. Keep up the good work!

  15. I loved Maureen's post. Loved it. I was inspired to write my own post on that topic, but you've beaten me to it. I shall commence resenting you... now!

    Okay, I won't resent you. I will, however, go read her MFA post.


    *scurries away*

  16. When I first started blogging, I didn't know much about it. I thought it was a good way to "build my platform" but what I didn't expect was the out pour of support and friendship. It quickly became so much more than I ever thought!!

  17. That lab... thing sounds awful. Hope you get better. As for tiny boxes, I never seem to fit into them very well so I've stopped trying.

  18. Robin: Yeah, the MFA opinions she has are kind of harsh, but after I thought about it I do agree with her.

    Loren: Thanks!

    Mizmak: Oh, sorry about misspelling your name. I'll go fix that.

    Simon: Well, as you can see, I didn't really talk about her post. I mentioned it and shamelessly filled up my post with her brilliance because I feel like crap still so you could still do a post. :)

    Stephanie: Yeah, I've had a similar experience. It's great!

    Judith: Yeah, it's not fun, but it's slowly getting better, so yay!

  19. Oh, feel better soon. I have bad balance issues from a 'small' stroke I had ten years ago (bad enough to keep me from driving ever again :( so I am very much sympathetic to your situation. I hope that you are once again able to eat without consequences very soon...

    I just have to say that I find this place very welcoming indeed. I've really enjoyed (in fact been surprised by!) the wonderful replies you all give to people who comment on your posts.

    I know that the bigger blogs get the harder that is to do (and will be for you to keep doing) but it really does feel nice to know you're heard. Thank you for that.

    As far as the airless box goes- this comes at a great time for me. Thank you so much for posting it.

    When I signed up for Twitter last week I felt like I'd finally crossed to the dark side. But I'm trying to use it for sharing important stuff (like the news of your contest was shared with me over Twitter the day after I joined- tyvm Anne!!!)

    I may likely never have found this blog without Twitter and that kind fellow writer's tweet and so now I am seeing that if you don't let it rule you, it can be a good thing and you can turn around and try to repay that kindness too. But you've got to remember not to let that box lid close too tight on you.


  20. February: Thank you so much for your comment! This made my day, really, to know that our efforts to get our blog out there aren't in vain. Twitter's great if you use it right. I don't go on there much, but it's a great way to get the word out about things and keep in touch with friends.

    I'm almost 100% better now, thank you. I'm surprised it didn't last long, but I usually recover quickly, so yay!

    Hope to see you around here again soon.

  21. I'm glad you're feeling better, Michelle! There's nothing that kills the creative spirit like nausea or headaches. :P

    This is one of my favorite blogs precisely because it feels like a community forum. That, and I usually learn something new or come away thinking.

    The words "Literary" and "Lab" appeal to me because I do want my writing to have a literary quality, even if it's genre fiction, and I like taking a scientific approach to writing sometimes. But you all manage to make it not stuffy at all. The opinions and ideas expressed here feel challenging, yet open-minded.

  22. Jeannie: Yay for not feeling stuffy! That's a bit of our goal - to be more open-minded.


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