I am Arachne.
Do you remember the story of Arachne? She was turned into a spider for creating art that rivaled that of the gods. But the punishment didn’t exactly work, did it? Because a spider’s web will beat any tapestry that Athena can weave. And Athena probably knows it.
My web is a little different. I was thinking of the image of the web specifically because of something Rima Staines said in a blog post, The Gate at the Edge of the Village. (If you want to see some glorious pictures of Devon, go look at Rima’s post. I would so love to see that landscape someday.) Rima said,
“What a strange and cumbersome word that is – blog – but I like where it came from: a web log, like a ship’s log, you can perhaps imagine us all pegging our log entries onto a huge web for the general perusal of spiders everywhere.”
I like that derivation too, and I like the idea of myself as a spider in a web, or rather spinning a web, because by creating the online connections we create, we become spinners. We become makers of the web, rather than simply admirers of a tapestry. What I mean, in more concrete terms, is that I like having an online presence, like the connections that I create through it. It does make me feel as though I’m at the center of a web, and that I’m communicating with people who are at the centers of their own webs. And all the webs together create something rather chaotic but also magnificent.
So, how does it actually work?
This morning, I woke up (rather early, for some reason I didn’t sleep well), and opened email. There, among the ordinary emails, were the comments on this blog, which go to my email account. First, I had to clean out the spam, which is always annoying. At least it’s easy to spot, both because the messages have nothing to do with my posts, and because I can tell that the email addresses and URLs are advertisements. Next, I tried to answer at least some of the comments. I’m behind on answering comments, sorry about that! It’s just this busy, busy February. It will be over soon. And then I checked my counter, because I love seeing where visitors are coming from including places I have never been and may never get to (although I hope I do). Tasmania! Singapore! It makes my life much more exciting to know that people are coming to my blog from places that seem so exotic to me, although I’m sure are just home to them.
And then I checked Facebook. Once upon a time, I restricted my Facebook page to friends, and then I changed that to friends of friends. And finally, I took off the privacy settings altogether. I figured, anything you put online is public anyway. It doesn’t make sense to pretend otherwise. And my Facebook page was never a place where I posted personal material. It was always about keeping in touch with friends who were other writers, editors, publishers. It was a sort of personal-professional hybrid. So anyone with a Facebook account can go, can post. I like it better that way.
And then I checked Twitter. That’s actually the most fun nowadays, because Blackberry has a very good Twitter app, so I check it right from my phone. I’m on Twitter more than anything else. And I like the ease and democracy of Twitter. I can follow anyone I want, anyone who wants to can follow me, include me in a tweet, message me. (I just need to keep straight who is who, which of my friends has which Twitter name.) It takes some getting used to, but is my new favorite way of communicating. (And the British contingent tweets the cricket matches. Go Bangladesh! Or whoever I’m supposed to be rooting for.)
Those are the components of my web. Once a day I write a blog post, several times a day I post on Facebook, and throughout the day I update my Twitter feed. It sounds like a lot, but other than the blog post, which does take time and effort, it’s done almost absentmindedly, while I’m taking a break or running somewhere.
Why is it so important to me? Because it helps me maintain a network of connections. It helps me keep in touch with friends, including those who are on the other side of the world, and it allows me to keep up with what’s going on in the world of writing. I know when a friend has finished a story, when an anthology is coming out, who was nominated for Nebulas. I would never want to give up doing things in the real world, this magnificent real world of ours. (Need to see it again? Look at Rima’s post. If I were walking those hills, alone or with a dog or a friend, I would turn my phone off and leave the network behind.) But in my life right now, there’s so little time for seeing friends, for sitting down with a cup of coffee and talking about what we’re writing, or reading. So those online connections become precious.
And now, you know where to find me. We’re part of the web together, spinners and makers. And tellers of stories (sometimes in 140 characters or fewer).
I know, I promised that every Friday, I would tell part of Thea’s story. And I will. This will be a day with two posts in it. Just let me finish my dinner . . .