Time Traveler looking for a Good Time

x0 tshirtI truly appreciate the friends, relatives and strangers who for one reason or another have read through my novels before publication and offered suggestions and back-up proofreading. After I published c3 I came upon a way to say thanks. I made t-shirts.

It seemed like kind of a goofy thing to do, which I suppose is why I liked the idea so much. I didn’t want the shirts to contain blatant advertising — that’s not exactly a gift, is it? — but rather to be something fun that tied into the whole 46. Ascending collection idea. I finally settled on the shirt shown above, inspired by the first novel in the collection, x0.

Well, it’s a year later and now I’ve got thirteen folks reading the almost final version of the soon-to-be-published novel d4. Nine are first time beta readers. Eight are people I’ve never met in real life and probably never will. How does one thank nine women and four men with ages that range from early twenties to late sixties and who call six different countries on three continents home?

tshirtEasy. You send them a t-shirt. At least I hope that the shirt to the left, inspired by the novel z2, will make them every one of them smile and will even start a few interesting conversations for each of them.

Yes, I would like to do a t-shirt for the intermediate novel y1 as well, in a suitable chameleon shade of orange, but the right tag line just would not come to me so I skipped on to the next book.  Perhaps someday a clever reader will suggest the perfect words. And of course there will eventually be a green tee inspired by the intrepid Teddie of c3.

Those who have heard me complain about how much I hate marketing my books may notice how much fun I am having creating these little thank you gifts. It’s true. I like doing this. It goes to prove that there at least some marketing skills that even a strong introvert like me can embrace.

(For more on this, check out my thoughts on using family and friends as beta readers and my observations about whether strangers make the perfect beta readers instead..)

No, I actually don’t want to spend time with you

word porn 1One of the many themes of z2 is that time is a precious commodity, and needs to be used well. A good bit of my time and probably yours is committed to health (eating, sleeping) hygiene (bathing, cleaning) and supporting ourselves. In fact, when we get done with all of that there isn’t much left over. But there is some, and for me at least it is the most precious resource that I have.

So what to do when someone announces that they want some of it? If it’s a person I care about, they generally get my ear, my help moving, a ride somewhere, whatever.  The time I give them may or may not bring me joy, but they do, and so I share willingly.

The more difficult situation is the social event that I have no desire to attend. I’m a strong introvert, and I get my full daily allowance of people just from going to work and filling gas. However, some social functions aren’t really optional. If it’s work mandated, or important to someone I care about, I go. Of course. If it’s a chance to try something new or learn about something that interests me, I sometimes give it a try. One can be surprised.

raising11But if it’s an old acquaintance I haven’t heard from in a long time and didn’t particularly enjoy back when, then I have finally learned to say no. Some people just bring me down. They may complain a lot, or talk about others, or make little jokes that insult me or people I know or whole groups of people. The net result is that whenever I spend time with them I feel sadder, smaller, and weaker than I did before. So why would anyone do that?

Yet for years if somebody invited me somewhere I felt obligated to go, if I was available. At best I’d make up a lie about having other plans and I’m a really bad liar. Recently, I have managed, instead, to say to such people “my life’s just too full right now, but thanks for thinking of me.” No suggestion of a another time, no saying I’m sorry I can’t make it. At most I have added “I hope the rest of you have fun.” And I do, I wish no one ill. I just don’t want to be there, and I’m finally old enough to recognize that I don’t have to be.

It’s tremendously liberating!

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