The End of the Beginning

10 Feb

With 285 pages down and only 51 left to read, I’m on the final stretch of Project: Edit | Phase One.  Technically, this is only the beginning of all the work I still have left to do, but I’m pleased nonetheless.  

Since I’ve been diligent trying to catch up this week, and have made pretty good progress, today has been a relax-and-let-my-brain-just-enjoy-things sort of day.¹  I’ve been reading and perusing blogs; it’s also been a much more social day than normal.  

One of the things I read today was the new Writer’s Digest magazine.  There was a quote in one of the articles² I read that made me feel sad and intrigued, with a dash of naïvete:

“‘Nobody cares about you on the Internet,’ [Seth] Godin says.  ‘People care only about themselves.  They’re looking for the answer to the all-important question: ‘What’s in it for me?’”

It’s such a black-and-white statement, one full of cynicism and pessimism, a sorry-folks-this-is-just-how-it-is sort of assertion.  Perhaps that’s why it didn’t sit well with me, since I’m a fan of all things gray and I’m more hopeful optimist than cynical pessimist.  Also, I know for a fact that it’s not an accurate statement, because I do, in fact, care about other people on the Internet.  (In my version of English, nobody means nobody, not almost everybody except for that one girl.)

I like to think you guys care, too — in fact, you’ve proved that you care.  You’ve been great accountability as I edit my work, and you say nice things about my pretty rainboots.  What do you get out of commenting on pretty rainboots, you know?

Of course, I’m really not so naïve (or optimistic) to think that entire quote is off-base — I know there’s truth in it.  As writers, we want to connect with other writers, hone our craft, get accountability, network, and on and on.  There are undeniable benefits to making connections on the Internet.  That doesn’t mean caring about others and caring about yourself are mutually exclusive, though — for me, they work together hand-in-hand.  

Caring about others is an essential part of ‘what’s in it for me,’ and not in an ulterior motives sort of way.  I genuinely like hearing about J.C. Hart‘s and Jennifer Neri‘s pregnancies; I empathize with Linda when she’s having a ‘blue muse’ sort of day; I hurt with Megs when she talks about her tendonitis or having to care for her hospitalized aunt; I know that Melissa hasn’t fallen off the face of the planet or anything, she’s just crazy busy trying to move and take care of her daughter and manage a full-time job.  (Cutting this paragraph off because you get the picture, yes?)

Anyway.  When I read that quote, it made me anxious to let you all know how much I appreciate you.  I’ve got in-person support, to be sure, but it’s wonderful to have met such caring people who are also goal-oriented writers.  

Thank you.

Any thoughts on the quote above?  

Revision Update, Phase One | 285 down, 51 to go | 84.8%

¹It’s safe to say that LOST has had a big part in this decision: my mind has officially been melted by all my recent theorizing and attempts to understand what, exactly, is going on…(Gotta say, though, I am 100% among those who totally love the fact that they’re still giving us new mysteries, despite the fact that it’s the final season.)(Answers are good, too, though.)

²”Make Your Passion Make Money For You,” by Chris Guillebeau.  It starts on page 31 of the March/April 2010 issue.

UPDATE: Chris Guillebeau, the author of the article, posted some helpful insights in the comment section below.  Be sure to check it out, since it puts my concerns about the quote in a more appropriate context.  

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11 Responses to “The End of the Beginning”

  1. cynthia Wednesday / 10 February 10 at 6:00 pm #

    I care about you, Kayla! This guy knows the wrong people. It’s just like they say about Twitter–it’s all in who you follow. I’ve even been to lunch with one of my “imaginary friends” and of course we hugged when we saw each other.

    • owlandsparrow Wednesday / 10 February 10 at 7:35 pm #

      Aw, thanks, Cynthia! :) That’s what I figured, that he must just have sour surroundings or something. To read such a blatantly pessimistic quote like that, though, I thought maybe I was in the minority – I felt extra lucky to have found such great blog-friends!

      I care about you, too, and appreciate your great observations and creative perspective (specifically, I have in mind your series on reading like a writer, as well as those starfish on the beach).

  2. J.C Wednesday / 10 February 10 at 6:11 pm #

    Aw, I know I certainly appreciate you and the other bloggers I’ve come to know and admire over the last however long I’ve been doing this. In particular, as a stay at home mum, this is my community! I don’t get out of the house a whole lot and knowing you’re all out there doing your thing helps me feel connected to the rest of the world. I love hearing about whats going on, even when others might consider it mundane – besides your gumboots and umbrella were pretty awesome! lol

    There are a lot of people on the web who are only in it for themselves, but there are also plenty of people who just genuinely like to connect with others, and when you can find those people, its very enriching.

    • owlandsparrow Wednesday / 10 February 10 at 7:39 pm #

      Though I don’t have kids yet, I am a stay-at-home wife (Well, I guess I’m a ‘mother’ for two cats? Cats don’t quite count as children yet, though the Little Guy is quite the handful and since I care about my dishes/TV/lamps staying in solid functional pieces, he requires near-constant supervision. Which is why he stays in the bedroom most of the time.)

      Anyway…after that brief detour, what I meant to say is that I appreciate all the ‘mundane’ stuff, too! It’s motivating and encouraging to connect with people from all over this globe who are writing and editing and living life. I agree – it’s enriching. :)

  3. Megs - Scattered Bits Wednesday / 10 February 10 at 10:49 pm #

    You go girl! I’ve got another 54 pages to go on Phase One (with a significantly smaller book), but right now, it’s mustering both time and energy that seems to be the problem. I’m going to devote some serious time this weekend I think.

    As for the quote: You have got to be kidding me. I’m amazed at how people care about me and my silly little troubles (okay, some aren’t) and it’s incredibly inspiring. Further, I care about the people I meet out here on the web. Sure we start out by looking for community, but the whole concept of community includes caring. Ugh. Those words just don’t jibe with me at all. Well, blessings.

    I gotta scram.

    • owlandsparrow Thursday / 11 February 10 at 11:18 am #

      Yay! You’re rocking Phase One! It’s completely snowy here today, and I don’t feel like doing anything work-related, so I can kind of relate to your lack of energy (if I was getting this all the time, I’d want to curl up with a book, some hot chocolate, and a fire!)

      Thanks to the author of the article (Chris Guillebeau, whose comment is right below this one), I am comforted to know that this quote is more no one cares about you until you give them a reason to and not so much no one cares, period. I read it wrong, but nonetheless (like I say below) my oversight made me think and has renewed my appreciation for the caring online community I know. :)

  4. Chris Guillebeau Wednesday / 10 February 10 at 11:03 pm #

    Hi Kayla,

    Great post. I think you’re taking the quote somewhat out of context, though—the rest of it goes on to explain how it’s important to find the convergence between what you care about and what your readers also care about. It doesn’t mean that no one cares… but it does mean that if you want to attract an audience beyond a limited circle, you have to think about more than just yourself.

    All best,

    Chris

    • owlandsparrow Thursday / 11 February 10 at 11:09 am #

      Chris,

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read my post and leave a comment. You’re totally right – the way I have presented this quote doesn’t fully acknowledge what you did with it in the rest of the article. I re-read your article, and it’s clear that I accidentally overlooked the latter half of a sentence preceding Seth Godin’s quote – “Nobody cares about you until you give them a good reason to do so.” Had I not overlooked that, I probably would have read the quote in a different light.

      When it comes to the quote itself, I read it with emphasis on the words “Nobody cares,” especially when paired with the “What’s in it for me?” part. It was jarring to me because it seemed like such a sad perspective. Having not read any of Seth Godin’s work, or knowing if this quote was provided specifically for your article or if it was from something else, I didn’t know the context of the quote itself.

      What you made of it, certainly, was more encouraging. After re-reading your helpful points about “convergence between your passion and what other people care about,” it’s clear to me that the quote is more you have to give people a reason to care than nobody does care, and they’re only in it for themselves. I agree with what you wrote in both the article and in your comment.

      Thanks for pointing out my oversight. Regardless of that, I’m still glad I read it wrong because it made me think, and because it gave me renewed appreciation for the nice people I’ve met. I’m certainly glad to know that I’ve taken this quote out of context – what a sad thing it would be if no one cared and everyone was only in it for themselves.

      Thanks again, and best to you, too -
      Kayla

  5. Linda Thursday / 11 February 10 at 11:17 am #

    Imaginary or not, my online friends support and teach me, make me laugh, give me insight into wonderful and beautiful things I wasn’t aware of, and many other things. Too bad, if Mr. Godin doesn’t get that.

    You mean, you haven’t figured out LOST yet?! :-)

    • owlandsparrow Thursday / 11 February 10 at 11:28 am #

      Same here. :) I see that you left this comment as I was finishing up my response to the author of the article, who left a helpful comment for me. (It went through my comment filter, so it may not have been up yet when you posted). His response helped me to see the quote in a different light.

      Nope. I think my Remy-cat knows what’s going on, but he won’t tell me. ;) Hey, did you know Nathan Bransford is a Lost fan and has a discussion forum about it? Here’s the link – http://forums.nathanbransford.com/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=615

  6. Kathleen Wall Thursday / 11 February 10 at 1:17 pm #

    It’s a good thing to be “a fan of all things gray.” LOL. Thought-provoking post and comments, too. I think we do care about people we meet online, even if we don’t give each other that great a reason (as in, information that has something in it for us). It’s like having pen-pals. We care about each others’ stories. We care about the journeys.

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