October 2015 is nearly gone. Today is All Hallow’s Eve, more familiarly known as Halloween, and with the appearance of little munchkins going from door to door collecting ‘Treats’, the month will draw to a close and November will dawn. Daylight Savings Time ends for most of you — here in Arizona we don’t do the “Spring forward, Fall back” thing. National Novel Writing Month, aka NaNoWriMo, gets underway for thousands of writers. No, I won’t be ‘participating’ in the organized festivities, though I do expect to spend a fair amount of time next month — and the months after — on my novel in progress, as well as my flash fiction and short story writing. Veteran’s Day is November 11th, a day devoted to remembering those who have served, and are serving, in our Armed Forces. Later in the month, Thanksgiving Day (November 26th) marks a day we set aside to recall the many blessings we enjoy, and give thanks for them. It also marks the onset of the holiday season in earnest, with ‘Black Friday’ and ‘Cyber Monday’ marking particular efforts of retailers, both ‘brick and mortar’ and ‘online’, to separate us from our money.
Today’s post, though, is a look back at October. October 2015 will go down, if not in history, then possibly in infamy, as the month that I chanced across Robert Lee Brewer’s blog “There Are No Rules”. For those of you not acquainted with Mr. Brewer, he is a Senior Editor at Writer’s Digest.com, and writes a blog there on all things ‘blogging’. His blog posts for the month of October have been devoted to helping writers who wish to develop a ‘platform’ take the necessary steps to begin that process. This has been the October Platform Challenge, on which I have previously commented here and here.
The month, and the challenge to develop a writer’s plaform, has been a tremendous learning experience for me. I am still learning, and will continue to learn for an indefinite future to use the facilities here at WordPress. I am beginning to develop an online presence in the social media. You can now find Jay Leeward at Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Goodreads, and Scribophile. I have my own domain and web site — still undeveloped, but in progress — at JayLeeward.com. And I am again becoming active at FanStory where I have been established for some time, though I have been inactive for more than a year.
On Day 20 of the Platform Challenge Mr. Brewer directed us to look ourselves up on Google and other search engines. I did so, part in curiousity and part to set a baseline. On Google, I got two hits in the first two pages. DuckDuckGo yielded three hits on the first two pages. Bing and Yahoo duplicated the results of Google. I repeated the search today to make a comparison for this post. Google had six hits on the first two pages, including three of the first four hits on page one. At DuckDuckGo the first five hits and nine of the first ten listed were references to my sites and posts. Bing and Yahoo had results much the same. I didn’t look deeper than this as that first page answered all the questions I had, for now. In the space of just of couple of weeks of concentrating on developing an online presence I had increased that online footprint by a factor of four, or more.
Equally important to the number of hits on search engines, I have ‘met’ and am becoming acquainted with a community of writers scattered across the globe. From that community and those writers I have drawn knowledge, support, and inspiration.
However, I think the more important thing I have gotten out of my participation in the October Platform Challenge is the stimulation this endeavor has had on my writing itself. I have put the finishing touches on a short story and submitted it for publication. I have written a new piece of flash fiction in the science fiction genre which has introduced me to a character and a universe that intrigues me and leads me to think there is much more for me to explore in developing both the character and the universe. I have added pages to my primary novel in progress. In short, the creative juices are flowing again and I have a new enthusiasm for my writing. Equally important to the enthusiasm is the determination to plant my butt in my chair and spend time writing.
In a previous post to this blog (see here), I listed several criteria I had established for myself necessary to transition from ‘wanna-be writer’ to ‘writer’. Thanks in part to Mr. Brewer and the October Platform Challenge, as well as to that ‘community’ I spoke of above, I can now very happily and proudly make this statement. “I AM A WRITER!”