By Catherine Hedge
When I was little, my father played Morse Code with us. He’d say, “Dit- dit- dit- da- da –da- dit – dit –dit,” and we’d try to figure out what he meant. He was a Navy radioman in the Pacific during World War II. He spent his time listening for messages that meant life or death. In fact, he had permanent hearing loss as a result. It was inconceivable to us that he couldn’t just pick up a telephone and dial for help. Yes…the code meant SOS, the distress signal.
I’m not that old, but in my lifetime, the transformation in communication has been both frightening and thrilling. I figured that by now, we’d be talking to someone living on Mars. That hasn’t happened, but we can talk to robots crawling around on her surface.
I read Dick Tracy and thought it would be fantastic to have a watch-sized communicator which showed faces during conversations. We don’t have that, but I can sit at my computer and have a face to face writing conversation for free with my friend in Canada. Or I can get annoyed because the person at the next table is describing her entire stock portfolio on her cell phone.
My grandson now wants to make a phone “invention” with tin cans and string, yet he seldom uses a wired phone. Most of his calls are on the same button- less, wireless instrument that directs us to a great breakfast dive in Omaha and takes his picture at the table.
Recently, I have stepped into a world of hyper communication. Well, perhaps not stepped into, but dragged, my heels carving troughs in the dirt. I have begun a blog.
This is why…
I am a writer, yet most of my work has been published in small venues, very specialized, or shared one time with an audience. At times, I felt like my writing was destined to sit at the bottom of my cedar chest…something my writing coach, Leonard Bishop…told us was worse than death itself.
Now, the whole world of electronic publishing is exploding. What seemed like a vanity stunt just 8 years ago is now becoming a viable path for writers, both established and novices.
The only problem is that your work can still sit at the bottom of a virtual cedar chest if you don’t market. And where do the “experts” say you should begin? A blog.
For years, the whole idea of websites and then blogs, terrified me. Hence the dragging heels, but I was absolutely amazed how easy the process of setting up a blog was. This is why, on the WordPress Freshly Pressed page, they state: “The best of 454,294 bloggers, 685,739 new posts, 1,414,381 comments, & 144,487,488 words posted today on WordPress.com.” That’s an incredible number of individuals sharing their personal insights and knowledge.
Dr. Wesch of Kansas State says it best on his video, “Web 2.0. ” 8 years ago, you couldn’t put up your own words without going through the experts, the web page and HTML programmers. Developing web sites was expensive and the format was rigid. Even the task of buying hosting sites and domain names was daunting.
I was able to have a blog site up and running in 30 minutes. Domain name purchased, template picked, and a picture I liked in the middle.
My writing colleagues and I have collaborated to put up posts, our individual pieces. We add categories and tags that let random searchers find our work. If we want to market, we click a few virtual buttons and our friends have a link to a piece they might find interesting.
From there, it grows! I’ve read about the spread of typhus and how they made maps to discover the origin. But I never imagined the Stat’s page for a blog! You can get daily reports on how many people have read your article and where they live. After six months, we’ve seen our writing spread over the world. Small numbers, to be sure, but at this point, individuals in many countries have gone to Pen in Hand for a laugh, information, or maybe just a glimpse of Midwest life.
When I’m willing to spend more time and money, I can upload videos of my poetry readings, chat in real time with my hoped for fans, or set up a subscription service for my books in serialization.
Though I sometimes want to creep down to my office and write in seclusion, I feel as if I’ve opened Pandora’s box and flung my soul out to the planet. The best part, though, is the one creature still left in the cedar chest is coming along with me. Hope.