Throwing The Pebble: A Tale Of A Terribleminds Comment
At present, it is a t-shirt you can purchase on CafePress.
Where does it come from?
Let’s track this, because it’s a curious journey.
That text began life here on Jolly Ol’ Terribleminds, born from the tapping keys of Julie Summerell on my earlier post about Don’t Be A Writer. In that post, I berate and demean you poor bastards to deliver an important life lesson (or, alternately, just because I get off on being an asshat).
In response to that post, Julie commented thusly:
“I like fish.
And I am a stubborn shithead.
And I am by no means excellent or operating under the delusion that I am. All I can do is keep doing it until I am.
Go fuck yourself.”
Following so far? Good.
Rob Donoghue tweeted about that post.
To which, Daniel Solis responded.
And then Rob said this about it being a t-shirt.
Daniel, at around 7:30 AM yesterday, made that happen. You already saw the link. Daniel changed the language a little, but the comment remains Julie’s at the core.
Then, just a half-hour ago, at 11AM, I went on my daily visit to awesome design site Abduzeedo, and what do I see? A post about Typography Mania. And what do I see in this post? The “I Am Not Excellent, Nor Am I Under Any Delusion That I Am. All I Can Do Is Keep Working Until I Am” graphic.
That is an alarmingly fast closed circuit. The message and the image did quite a lap in a 24-hour period. From blog comment to t-shirt to typographical exemplar. Maybe it’s done. Maybe it’s not. I dunno.
But this does lead me to some thoughts. Which I share with you now.
Pebble In Water = Ripples
A lot of the people who come here are writers or creators of some stripe. Good. Fine. Excellent. High-five to all of you. Those of you who are Doing Things and Making Things and Saying Things, good on you.
Still, looking back over other comments, we can see clearly that the Act of Creation is only part of the overall design. You can write a poem in the dark, but only you will hear it. The other part — for many, the hardest part — is flipping on the lights, leaving the attic, and making sure your poem is read, heard, seen, considered. (Poem is a placeholder for That Thing You Created, by the way; I don’t mean you’re all poets. Thank Jeebus.)
The Internet makes this both easier and harder.
We’re all connected.
This makes it harder because you have a signal to noise problem. Lots of noise. Lots of signal, too, but that makes it hard to isolate the signals that are valuable to you or to your audience. Meaning, signal becomes noise.
This is easier because you have at your disposal a world of free and easy tools.
You are handed a pebble.
Throw it. Check out the ripples.
Throwing The Pebble Is Active, Not Passive
You still have to do something. You still have to throw that goddamn pebble. Keeping the pebble earns you nothing. You can’t spend the pebble. It’s not fucking wampum. Nobody will let you buy a hot dog with that pebble. You can keep it — and affect nothing and nobody — or you can toss it. Maybe it ripples the water. Maybe it shatters glass. Maybe it hits some asshole on his bike and he crashes into other guys with bikes.
Then again, maybe it sails into a dark hole and disappears, and nobody hears it, and nobody cares.
That’s always a possibility.
But you don’t know until you throw the pebble.
You Can Get More Pebbles
Time to start framing this as a more practical component. The pebble here represents some part of your voice. Maybe it’s the entirety of your manuscript, poem, script, image, t-shirt, whatever. Maybe it’s just a tiny fragment of it. Maybe it’s a related comment. An unrelated comment. A thought, a dream, a picture, whatever.
Here’s the secret.
You don’t get one pebble.
People act like they get one pebble, but you get as many pebbles as you choose to grab.
The more pebbles you throw, the more ripples you will create, the more spiderweb cracks you’ll make in the glass, the more cyclists you’ll bean in the temple. The greater the chance that your pebble doesn’t merely disappear down a dark hole for none to see.
What The Fuck Are You Babbling About, Wendig? Quit The Zen Shit And Get To The Point
Okay, okay, okay. Damn. Don’t bite my hand off.
Let’s speak more plainly about — dun dun dun — social media.
You’re using social media, right?
I mean, like, as much of it as possible? Semi-regularly?
Then you are leaving pebbles on the ground for other people to pick up.
Listen, you have at your disposal a world of tools, and these social media gateways multiply your pebble-chucking opportunities. Me, I’m on the Twitters, the Facebooks, the Livejournals, the bloggospaces, the Myspaces, the Tumblrs, and the Flickrs. Do I use them all? Myspace is the only one that falls down and sees very little use, because it seems to be a sinking ship, with all the rats hungering for the sweet cheese that is Facebook. But all the others, I try to use. I use them for many different pebbles. I advertise blog posts. I share news. I ramble and babble and gurgle and burble and coo. I say stupid shit. I say smart shit (more rarely than I’d like). All of them are pebbles thrown, with ripples that ideally connect with the ripples from other people’s pebbles.
It’s not a perfect system. It’s guarantees nothing. But as I said the other day, you won’t get struck by lightning hiding in the basement.
You can’t connect with others unless you have those ripples.
Use these tools. Harness them. Throw your pebbles. Who knows? Maybe one of your pebbles will send out enough ripples to magically manifest a t-shirt 24 hours later without you even meaning to. That’s just how the Internet rolls, folks.
Next week, I’ll talk more about the social media gateways that I use, why I use them, and what I get out of them.
Alternately, I might just go with dick jokes.
Wait and see!
[EDIT: Another great example, comin’ your way. Check it!]