The Literary Drover No. 4036

Several years ago I was invited to join an exclusive on-line writing group, which counted among its members well-known literary types. Because I wanted to succeed as a member I did not advance opinion that might be considered disrespectful or rude. I did not insult others and always expressed civility.

Despite this Sunday morning behavior I was contacted by an administrator of the group, who informed me that if I did not ask a question of the group and soon I would be “encouraged” to leave the group.

I asked a question.

The response involved a feather pillow being disemboweled and tar heated, with the combined mass to be applied to my person.

What was it I asked that so offended and outraged?

Question: How important is honesty in writing.

Long story short: I voluntarily left the group because I realized that the collective response indicated that honesty in writing is neither valued nor encouraged.

Years later, in a quiet moment, as I consider the slow death of media – television, cinema, Social Media – I consider that circumstance and have concluded that the lack of honesty in writing has contributed much to the provocation. But I have also determined that media can be saved from demise by practicing honesty in writing. Those who do so will succeed and media will endure for another day.

The Literary Drover No. 3261

In the wake of Facebook imploding my friend Jason made an interesting confession: He stopped using Facebook when he learned that he could not block Mark Zuckerberg.

You can choose to stop believing in God, Jason told me. But you cannot get away from Mark Zuckerberg on Facebook, and who wants to be around THAT?!?

The only recourse for him was to delete his Facebook account.

The Literary Drover No. 3211

Because so much of Social Media has failed in its primary purpose, its basic function, and abandoned its potential, as well as being anything but “Social”, as of now I refuse to use the phrase ‘Social Media’.

There is media, and nothing else. No subcategories, which might include the aforementioned phrase. I have a web-based log – a blog – and that is all. I use my blog to demonstrate my capabilities with writing, as I pursue the Craft and Art of Writing – nothing more.

I believe in doing so I produce quality content that will assist and benefit others.

The Literary Drover No. 3191

Come the first days of March my friend Duane cleans house. The significance of this declaration is that Duane is an all-or-nothing type of person, so cleaning house means cleaning house.

I became aware of his tendency for the first time when he invited me to his home several years ago and encountered a hulking medium blue construction dumpster in the driveway. He explained that after living in his home for about five years he realized that he was unable to properly use his oversized garage which would overwise shelter two, one-ton pickup trucks and a Mini Cooper because it was crammed full of. . . stuff. (This is a family-oriented blog, so the more accurate and appropriate term to describe the contents has been sacrified.)

Duane started throwing stuff into the recycling bins issued by his local municipality and found that they quickly filled. He then filled the modest trash bin also provided by the city and decided a dumpster would be more useful. When that was filled he rented a construction dumpster.

It was almost full the day I arrived.

After about two hours of work Duane and I filled it, and another construction dumpster was rented to finish the job.

To prevent a repeat of the experience Duane cleans house the first days of March. He recycles what he cans, and sends the rest to the local landfill. He cleans, polishes, sanitizes, buffs, vacuums, scrubs, scours, and makes the house almost picture perfect.

Starting this year, in a manner of speaking, I have taken to cleaning house – where this blog is concerned. I have established a list of blocked e-mail accounts that belong to spammers. I have noted domains and IP addresses where spam and other nonsense originate from. I have deleted e-mails that are off-topic and irrelevant to the content of this blog. I have created and maintain a list of people who read my writing and financially support my efforts by purchasing copies of my books.

I am cleaning house.

In doing so I have determined that this exercise is a wortwhile undertaking. The number of people who have attempted to waste my time has dropped dramatically. The number of people who support my writing as increased substantially. The reach of this blog through the audience has grown beyond expectation and  . . .

I have yet to start the purge, which will require a construction dumpster.

The Literary Drover No. 3186

I do not understand why so many people are reactive instead proactive.

For example, a guy I have known for many years. After more than a decade of working temporary jobs and contacts that barely provided financial means for food and shelter he got a full-time job with a company known for its generous benefits package, including an automatic annual pay increase of at least ten percent. For this guy, who chose not to go to college or get training or certification that would give him an advantage in the workplace, this opportunity was a godsend, a miracle. His new employer also made it known that any employee who wanted to pursue education could do so at almost no cost to them so long as they maintained an overall grade average of “C”. They made much of the fact more than a few employees had come to the company with a high school education and retired years later with a doctorate. They also promoted the fact that more than a few employees, because of this educational offering, had gone on to start and establish successful businesses.

About five years after the guy I know went to work for this company (which shall remain unnamed for reasons that will become apparent) it was decided that the automatic annual pay increase would end because too many had become complicit owing to a sense of entitlement.

It was also decided that employees would have to demonstrate their worth and value to the company each work day. “You are an asset or a liability” was the informal company motto.

And it was also decided that an employee who wanted to pursue education opportunities at the company’s expense would have to earn a grade of at “B” to receive financial reimbursement and that the course or courses taken had to be directly and immediately relevant to their work. The days of classes with names like “International Abstract Basketweaving and The History of Communism in Vermont” were at an end.

Some the long-time employees, who were also astute, sensed change was coming to the company, and they were proactive.

Not the guy I know. At the end of the first year of the new program he was summoned to Human Resources, and was reminded that the automatic annual pay increase was no longer in effect. He was also asked to explain why he had not pursued educational opportunities relevant to his work.

Excuses were made, explanations were given, and allowances by HR were provided for the failings and shortcomings, but he was told that in the coming year he would have to make an effort to keep his job.

To make a long story short after five plus years of being reactive instead of being proactive the guy I know was told by HR he should consider employment opportunities elsewhere because one member of senior executive management had decided he was a liability, not an asset.

I would like to report that he excelled professionally, but I cannot do so. His proactive actions and behaviors were too little, too late, and a year later he was downsized.

This story has been offered because it is directly relevant to writing, specifically blogging.

Are you proactive or reactive when it comes to blogging and being a blogger? Are you an asset or a liability where the blogosphere is concerned?

Will you be blogging tomorrow? A week from today?  A month from now? Three months from this day? Six months? A year? Five years? If you choose to continue your blogging efforts what will you have produced that is an asset and not a liability to your audience and supporters?

The time has come for Social Media to become proactive instead of reactive. The time has come for Social Media to become an asset to all, and not a liability.

The Literary Drover No. 3114

I will humbly and respectfully, politely and simply refute the accolade because for me it was and remains a matter of common sense: From the first I rejected the notion that it was possible to succeed while doing more than one thing at a time – that dishonest superlative “multi-tasking”.

Science has determined that doing more than one thing at a time is not only a path to failure but it also has detrimental effects on the brain and can contribute to memory issues later in life. Although the brain itself can process multiple things at the same time you cannot manage more than one task at a time and the more you persist in doing so the less likely you are to do anything that may be considered an accomplishment of worth and merit.