My morning walk through my Internet village

A pink-soled sneaker being tied onto a foot; Words: Every morning I take a walk and stop to say hi to all my Internet friendsSURFING? OR FREEDOM FOR PEOPLE WHO DON’T GET OUT MUCH?

What other people do so easily, would be impossible for me: I’m technically retired now, though the last 25 years of my working life were spent on disability, and I can’t just ‘go out for a walk’ like healthy people my age.

I’ve recently gotten to the place where I can walk more, but it isn’t easy or fast or convenient or unassisted, not like when I used to go out the front door, turn left (or right if I wanted to add an extra bit around the cul-de-sac), and just go, walk wherever I happened to decide, and come back when I’d had some exercise.

But I do something similar when I get on my computer in the mornings, and, while I’m waiting for the morning’s caffeine to decide if there are going to be working brain cells today, I walk around my Internet neighborhood – the sites on my navigation bar – and see what’s up.

Procrastinate first, except for the rare days when there’s something my limited brain can do in the writing department before it is warmed up. I’ve tried – nothing seems to work – so I’ve decided to enjoy my morning walk, do it as efficiently as possible, and not fret about the time wasted/spent. Angst is not helpful, so I don’t bother any more. And I almost never add any new stops to the navigation bar.

HOME COMPUTER: Email first – well Duh!

I check email several times a day, and make sure to deal with what I can asap, as friends write, and several newsletters show up with something new, and often a quick response saves much time and effort later.

Plus, as you can tell, I like to write back. Gets the brain moving and the fingers wiggling.

Sometimes I find responses I needed from missives I’ve sent out to friends or other sources, and know I’ll be able to move something forward.

Occasionally, I have to do something, such as go to the basement and read the numbers on the meter for the solar power system, near the first of the month. They can’t do their paperwork until they have my input, so it gets a high priority.

FIREFOX: First stop on the Internet are my own blogs

I refresh the page, and the thingy in the top right hand corner will tell me if I have visitors, and if they’ve commented. New comments on the blog always get first priority

First stop after 9AM – TPV; if much earlier, do this later

I stop by The Passive Voice for the morning publishing news (and several times more during the day because Passive Guy puts up five or six posts every day). It’s like a visit to a cafe where you get good commentary, and rude people aren’t tolerated. We mostly stay on topics related to publishing and books and such, but David has an interesting mind, and gets stuff from lots of places.

Extra points if posts have a comment at the bottom from our gracious, handsome, and intelligent host – his wry humor and delicate satire are things for joy.

People send him stuff. He is a good host, posting an excerpt – and a link to the original. He is careful not to ruin the original post, while giving you enough to decide if you’re going to visit it.

On most blogs, comments need supervision, and are often not worth the time to scan them; if you don’t read the comments on TPV – and subscribe so you get the late ones – you’re going to miss things. Useful things.

WU – ‘about the craft and business of fiction’

I stop by Writer Unboxed most mornings, at least to get a quick look at the topic and the post’s byline. I skip Flog a Pro – kind of hate the idea of people feeling they can freely trash work they couldn’t produce; mean-spirited and negative some times. Not me. Other bylines or topics I know I won’t respond to from the title or a bit of the post, I skip; otherwise, I read the post.

I consider whether there’s anything I’d like to add to the discussion (there’s usually a question or two at the end of the post as a prompt); I leave my little addition to world literature or my (usually different) take on the subject, read those of other people I recognize, and maybe pop back later; I like posters who bother to come back and join the discussion better, but not all of them have/take the time.

FB – for friends and support groups

You get out what you put in on FB. You are a contributing member of a community – or not. Since one group is a support groups for people I know have extremely limited energy, that group’s members get a pass – some can only afford to post when desperate, and we all respect that.

My group of friends is small, and I don’t sell or proselytize much – that’s not what friends are for. My blog posts automatically on my personal FB page; if there’s anything that the groups might find useful, I cross-post them on the group page. A little goes a long way.

I check out any friend requests – most are obvious spammers – easy to tell (and block permanently) if I take a peek at their page. I’ve even reached the point of checking with the ‘friends in common’ if a friend request is odd and unexpected in any way.

I have no author page – yet. It would be one more thing to maintain – maybe if it seems a good idea later.

CHROME: GR and my British friends

A daily stop, maybe several times, is a nice bunch of people on Goodreads in the UK Kindle group who have made me feel welcome. I’ve read enough British authors in my life to practically qualify on that alone. Occasionally there will be something in my inbox from a GR friend.

I usually save those for later response, but almost always read them right away.

The notifications function provides a quick way to keep track of the threads I comment on or read.

The comics – and Dear Abby

And I’ve had my bit of entertainment for the day; I have them set up for easy refreshing on the Chrome browser, and can update and read and pass on good ones to friends with a few minutes’ effort. Doesn’t that happen to you? A comic just makes you have to send it to a particular friend?

Extra points when the friend later emails back that it was especially appropriate or welcome.

The daily brain puzzles – measuring brain speed (if any)

Usually the last stop on my little trek, I set up a few hard sudokus, maybe do one or two, to gauge whether my brain is starting to work the way I need it to work for writing fiction.

I’m looking for a completion time below seven minutes; and I monitor, with a partial brain, how the math processing is going. I can literally feel it when I’m not tracking – I can still do them most of the time, but they feel like slogging through mud, and take forever. The CFS brain fog is clearly at work here; sometimes it won’t go away. I can work a bit, but it almost isn’t worth it without a brain. I’ll get ten minutes worth of writing done in three hours.

Yahoo news

If it makes it to Yahoo, I take a quick scan; other news items will show up in paper (The Economist and other magazines), or someone will boost them on FB, so this is really a desperate measure to find SOMETHING to read before I have to (want to/have to) get to work.

The end of the walk – home again, home again, higglety pen

After a final quick check of the emails, and possibly TPV depending on timing, and a superquick and usually pointless visit to Amazon’s pages that show book sales, I grit my metaphorical teeth and start up Freedom or Anti-Social to block the internet for my available writing time.

Then have chocolate protein shake, and take First Nap (sounds counterproductive, but isn’t – search for ‘mental dialysis’ posts), and when I wake up again and come back to the computer, the writing is sitting there ready to go, I’ve checked out that the whole world is okay until I have time to look again, and I don’t even think about all my friends for hours.

Turning into a routine makes it much more efficient than it used to be.

Keeps me sane.

And productive.

And connected – the most important part of all. My internet friends are REAL friends. I just maybe don’t really know how tall they are.


Thanks to Stencil for images I can create or edit.

Do you have a morning computer routine?

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12 thoughts on “My morning walk through my Internet village

  1. marianallen

    I do have a routine: Check email. Check Facebook; go through notifications to see what friends are sharing or commenting on; check family; check birthdays. Check my website for comments and to make sure my post actually published. Somewhere in there, I go get my mother set up for her day. When she’s taken care of, I visit the blogs I have email subscriptions to (like this one) and the blogs of people who comment on my posts. Then I edit, write, or do sums for my publishing house (ick).

    My husband sends me political articles A LOT, and sometimes I have the strength to read them, sometimes not. I don’t have CFS, but I do have dysthymia, a low-grade chronic anxiety/depression disorder, and I have to conserve my emotions the way you do your physical and mental powers.

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    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      Today I found a few new copacetic people who blog. I have guiltily spent time reading – and commenting – on their posts. As you know, it’s a real pleasure to find people like you to talk to.

      I’ll try writing later, anyway, but I may have used up my wad. But it’s sometimes necessary – to refill the well.

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  2. serendipitydoit

    I really must set up a Goodreads Author Page, Alicia. It’s all a bit daunting, isn’t it? Social media can take up so much time, but it connects us all too. I enjoyed strolling along with you.

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    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      Choose just a few places to spend some time on, though, or you can easily spend a lot of your day in the illusion that you’re getting work done.

      I don’t Pinterest, or Instagram, or Twitter, or…

      And be prepared for the ones you choose not to be what you expect.

      But yes, the connections are worth it.

      My biggest problem is that I need a certain amount of input, and three of the blogs I used to visit regularly have basically gone to a post once in a while: Joe Knorath, David Gaughran, and Hugh Howey. I’ve poked around – and haven’t found replacements yet for them – successful self-publishers with knowledge of that and traditional publishing who don’t use expletives as punctuation constantly.

      Blog posts are a gift – few bloggers are giving me presents any more. I want more – I’m entitled to them! But I’m not.

      There also doesn’t seem to be as much fisking of the stuff coming from traditional publishers – which was quite entertaining, if not a good use of my time.

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  3. Janna G. Noelle

    This is neat. I like the idea of one’s daily web surfing activity as a virtual walk. For me, with every website that I follow, I get email notifications so I don’t have to physically check any of them (although I do check Facebook and Twitter, as well as CBC news).

    I follow WU as well, although I rarely comment on it due to my time zone (on a good post, I’ll wake up to it already having 20+ comments. It’s hard to insert yourself into a conversation that’s been going for hours already; even harder to come up with something new to add to it.)

    I do read Flogging the Pro out of lurid interest for the comments, but personally, I’ve never quit a book on the first 17 lines, nor do I suspect many others have either. The setup of that column is a bit artificial: I think most people make more informed decisions about what books they pick up to prevent they’re having to quit them that soon. Any book I quit after only 17 lines is probably one I never wanted to read to begin with.

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    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      I just don’t like the attitude – being a pro is hard enough, and even though there is plenty of garbage prose put out by ‘pros,’ the ones of these I’ve read always leave me with an uncomfortable feeling of pirañas encouraged by blood in the water – sort of trolling being encouraged.

      Like it or don’t like it. Leave a review based on your opinion, if you want, when you’ve read it or bought it. But trashing with a group – not me.

      Besides, anything that one writer doesn’t do well can be done very well by a different writer with more skill.

      I see red flags going up as I get into something; too many of those, I stop reading. Usually the sample is enough to spot whether the hunting is going to come back with woolly mammoth or a squirrel or two.

      But one page? Or whatever?

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      1. Janna G. Noelle

        I don’t have a problem with writers critiquing the work of others as a learning process because I understand the underlying point of the column (that agents and publishers often judge the worthiness of a manuscript by its first page). But I agree, critique has to be done respectfully. More of “here’s what I’d do differently” than “I wouldn’t pay thirty cents to keep reading”.

        Personally, there’s not much I wouldn’t spend thirty cents on, and I’m usually able to find some level of enjoyment in everything I read (I read fan fiction, so believe me when I say that). Even with books that I DNF, I often end up going back to them later, which makes the situation less of a “No” and more so “Not right now”.

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        1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

          I couldn’t read fan fiction – except my writing partner’s. She’s gone on to write thrillers, is looking for a second publisher.

          You’re more forgiving than I am.

          It is probably a personality thing: I expect work I am offered to read will be up to decent standards; if it isn’t, I bail quickly.

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  4. juliabarrett

    I always stop by TPV. Twice a day. Check the blogs to which I subscribe. Generally avoid how to write blogs. But I do see their value. 🙂

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