There’s this phrase that’s meant to emphasize the realness of things:
“It’s right there in black and white.”
Sometimes I fixate on words, and sometimes I make weird connections in my brain and then I write about it, so today’s stream of consciousness rambling is about that phrase, and how to me, it quite literally demonstrates realness in an area of life many people want to discount it.
Right before Christmas in 2017, I had a ‘friend’ in real life tag me in the black and white photo challenge on another, non-anonymous social media platform. One I’m not active on anymore, because…well, reasons, many of which I hope become apparent reading this post. The rules of this online game are to post one black and white photograph a day for 7 days, no photos of people, no explanations of what the photos are, and to tag someone else each day to complete the challenge. I feel strange and anxious tagging people, so I didn’t do that part, but I did finish the challenge myself, even though no one was really paying any attention to it. I suppose my ‘friend’ tagged me in it to fulfill the challenge requirements and she was more than reasonably sure I’d pay attention and follow through. I’m like that. I get invested. I’m almost always more invested than other people in a project/assignment/interaction/relationship.
On the last day for me to post a photo, I posted this one…
Pretty much everyone here knows those are novels I’ve self published. (These are the first two I put out, and the only two that were available at the time I took this challenge.)
There are about fifteen people (other than J) in my real life who know I self-published anything. I curated who I told about the first book down to people I thought had the best odds of caring or showing any interest or support. This photo got three ‘likes’ and no questions on the other social media platform. None of the people I told about the books ‘liked’ this photo, or commented on it, or DM’ed me about it. None of them have bought a copy. None of them have read any of the books I wrote. None of the people I *didn’t* tell surprised me and asked a question like, ‘Who wrote those books? I’ve never heard of that author…’
I’ve since gotten brave in an effort to get more word of mouth marketing, and told a few more people and exactly two of the next ten people I told cared a little and have read a book or two. But the overwhelming majority of people who are actually ‘in’ my life don’t care about the accomplishment I’ve put the most work, the most of myself, the most of my soul into, other than my marriage to J and mothering our son (and the people in my life aren’t super supportive of *those* things, either). Even the ‘friends’ I’ve TOLD about the writing. It’s not that they are actively negative about things; they are just wholly indifferent. I know they have their own lives, and I don’t want them to throw me a party or anything (I don’t even like parties). But it’s evident they don’t care about things that are important to me. It’s there in black and white.
I had exactly one contact on that other social media platform that read what I blogged at the time as well. Only one of two people on that social media platform (other than J) who knew I HAD a blog, and she met me THROUGH the blog. SHE ‘liked’ this post. SHE DM’ed me about it.
‘amazed you posted pics of your books!!!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂 so proud of you!’
I just put up a new book last weekend, and about a dozen people I’ve met through writing sent me messages telling me how excited they were about it…sent me feedback on the book…routinely tell me they look forward to new writing from me and that they value what I have to say and my friendship in general. About four of the people who know me ‘in real life’ (other than J) know and retain that I’ve self published anything (and 3 of those 4 live far away too)…let me discuss writing, or anxiety, or introversion, or what I spend most of my time doing…*occasionally.* Other than those four people, the people ‘in’ my life usually don’t want to even talk about J or our son. They rarely reach out to me for any reason, and when they do, invariably, it’s to talk about themselves because they know I’ll listen and care. Sometimes it’s to seek my help (or sometimes J’s, but they’re afraid to contact HIM directly) with something. But they’re totally disinterested in reciprocating that for me, and I know at least part of that comes from not wanting to hear about things going well for me or things I’m excited about.
Whenever I post new writing here, whether it’s about the novels or social issues or just about J catching a mole in our backyard, kind people who have never met me respond. I can’t be thankful enough for that. At the moment I posted this photo of my first two books, my friends who I met through blogging weren’t ‘in’ my life. They were just friends in text format, and most of them still are. Most of them don’t know my real name or where I live or what I look like. (Only one person I’ve met through blogging knows ALL of those things about me.) Most of them have never been in my physical presence or even heard my voice. They’re friends in black and white. Which a lot of people ‘in’ my life routinely argue isn’t real. But those black and white words they exchange with me are full of color and life. No one will ever be able to convince me that online friends aren’t ‘real’ friends. Thank you, *Friends.*