You basically need social media to be able to “make it” these days, but I also believe you need it for a lot more than marketing and networking. Scoffing social media is not only a pretty elitist move, but it’s also throwing away a chance to improve your writing.
Facebook statuses are writing, but…not?
“No writing is wasted. Did you know that sourdough from San Francisco is leavened partly by a bacteria called lactobacillus sanfrancisensis? It is native to the soil there, and does not do well elsewhere. But any kitchen can become an ecosystem. If you bake a lot, your kitchen will become a happy home to wild yeasts, and all your bread will taste better. Even a failed loaf is not wasted. Likewise, cheese makers wash the dairy floor with whey. Tomato gardeners compost with rotten tomatoes. No writing is wasted: the words you can’t put in your book can wash the floor, live in the soil, lurk around in the air. They will make the next words better.”
So, let’s not call it practice. Let’s call it composting.
“Our sense by themselves are dumb. They take in experience, but they need the richness of sifting for a while through our consciousness and through our whole bodies. I call this “composting.” Our bodies are garbage heaps: we collect experience, and from the decomposition of the thrown-out eggshells, spinach leaves, coffee grinds, and old steak bones of our minds come nitrogran, heat, and very fertile soil. Out of this fertile soil bloom our poems and stories.But this does not come all at once. It takes time. Continue to turn over and over the organic details of your life until some of them fall through the garbage of discursive thoughts to the solid ground of black soil. When we are raking our minds and taking our shallow thinking and turning it over, if we continue to work with this raw matter, it will draw us deeper and deeper into ourselves, but not in a neurotic way. We will begin to see the rich garden we have inside us and use that for writing.”
That regular “non-writing” is necessary and important to your process!
“Write down all the garbage you’ve got, every day—not like a journal, chronological and neat, but more like a garbage disposal, throwing everything in. Half-finished essay introductions, to-do lists, poems, love letters to no one. Fill notebooks with it. And periodically, sift through what you are writing for the beautiful things that’ll start to grow in it. Sometimes you’ll find the roots of ideas forming in your mind; other times you’ll be rereading your accumulated inanity and stumble on just the thought you’ve been looking for, or the insight you need, to help you wrap up your current project or crash through a new one.”
A Tweet is a Little Poem.
“I’m on the internet quite a bit. It almost makes me insane. Ben [Fama] has this line in a poem, “The internet is my home/ where it’s easy to be beautiful.” I agree with that like to the max. I’m constantly on my phone. I read my poems off my phone. I write on my phone. My phone is constantly in my hand. Being a contemporary poet and being on the internet go hand in hand. A tweet is a little poem. I send my friend a text—that’s a love poem! I want literature that’s not made from literature, like let’s destroy this idea of a pure form… everything is cross mutation of particles that merge with one another.”
“Some people feel like tweeting or texting friends can steal the energy that would otherwise get put to their work.”
“No. That’s all my writing. You can’t steal something that’s a part of everything, if it’s all connected and it’s all the same thing. What makes it different? I write it on paper so it’s more holy than if it’s on my phone or in a tweet or a text to a friend? No. The space your words are in shouldn’t matter more than your words. Some of my best lines will come from a manic Facebook post when I’m pissed off at someone. Little things that I don’t even think about, and I go back like, “Oh, that is a good line.” Everything is one big great poem. Why pretend otherwise?”