girl having sex with elephant

WordPress doesn’t tell me who specifically is visiting my blog, but the stats page does tell me what search engine terms people are using to find it. And the most common one, by far, is some variation of “girl having sex with elephant”.

Seriously. Although once it was “me having sex with elephant”. Maybe that one was the girl all the rest are looking for.

The reason this search query brings people to my blog is because I wrote a post I called the elephant in the room (and me trying to have sex with it), and for the meta tags I used keywords like “elephant sex” and “pachyderms”. Meta tags are how webpages are indexed on the internet, and help match keywords users type into search engines with appropriate webpages. At least, that’s how I think it works. I don’t actually know for sure. What I do know is that if you type girl having sex with elephant into Google without quotes, there’s over five million results. And my blog is the ninth one.

I always figured I’d be noteworthy for something one day. I just never thought it would be elephant sex.

The reason I’m mentioning this now is because as of today, I’ve been on Twitter for a week. And as a result, I really just feel like fucking with people on the internet right now.

I still hate Twitter. Twitter is basically like an unending series of Facebook status updates, except from people I really don’t care about. Oh yeah, and a lot of them are constantly trying to sell me something. “Buy my book!” “Visit my webpage (where you can buy my book)!” “Check out my interview (about my book, which you can buy on my website)!”

You know what? No. Fuck that noise. Yes, I understand that people only have 140 characters to work with, but I hate being told what to do. When I see “Buy my book!” the first thing that pops into my head is “No. Fuck you.” I don’t actually say it, or even type it, but that’s the general response I have to that sort of thing.

That said, I will admit that I’ve connected with some pretty cool people on Twitter.  But these were people who actually started a conversation with me, rather than just trying to sell me something. And yeah, in the case of one guy I did end up buying his book because he just seemed like such a cool person, but he also bought mine and his was 99 cents while mine is $2.99, so I won that round.

I do understand the marketing potential of Twitter. I’ve been posting on this blog once a week for over a year now, and it averages nine unique hits a day. I’m assuming eight of those are my mom clicking obsessively, but still. Yet in just the week that I’ve been on Twitter, I’ve been posting links to my Videlicet Productions blog and it’s now averaging eight unique hits a day, and there’s only like three posts on there. And no elephant sex. So posting links on Twitter really does work.

The thing is, I know exactly what I need to do to really be successful, but I just can’t bring myself to do it. I simply can’t pretend to be interested in other people’s crap that I really don’t care about. So instead I’ve just been having fun with people who share my weird sense of humor. Another author did a ‘flash’ interview of me on Twitter, and it quickly went horribly, horribly wrong. I also co-founded TweetCliffNotes, where we write book summaries based on poor recollections of books read 5-10 years ago in 140 characters or less (for example, WAR AND PEACE: “Oh no, the French! Aww crap I’m dead. The other guy gets married.”)

I’ve got a collection of short stories I plan to release early next month, but after seeing all the annoying crap other people do to promote their work, I just can’t bring myself to go that route. In fact, here’s the cover I designed for it:

yeah, this is seriously what I'm going withA lot of people have told me how important it is to have a decent cover, but I honestly think the quality of the cover should reflect the quality of the writing contained within.  And in this case, I think I hit it pretty much right on. But as my writing improves, I plan on having better and better covers for my books.

Obviously by “better” I mean “designed by someone other than me.”

You might be wondering who Sander Crane is. Well, Sander Crane is the pen name of an individual who doesn’t want his real name associated with these stories in any way, and that’s all I can say about that.

So will using this cover hurt my sales? Almost certainly. But it’s more important to me that the quality of the cover reflect the quality of the stories, so I’m going to go ahead and roll with it. But I am thinking my next project will be SmallGalaxy.

SmallGalaxy is the story of a football-size spaceship crewed by sentient cockroaches (which makes a lot of sense, if you stop and think about it), and I guarantee you it’s the greatest story about cockroaches ever. I say this with a pretty high degree of confidence considering my biggest competition is the delightful 1996 film Joe’s Apartment. I think it would be funny to write it, have a fantastic cover designed, get everyone on Twitter to ‘like’ it on Facebook and write 5-star reviews on Amazon, until the inevitable day that someone actually reads it and goes, “Wait a minute, this story is about cockroaches??!! Plus it really sucks.”

And then they will know how I feel.

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priorities

I came to Australia specifically to focus on writing, but I didn’t count on how freaking expensive it is to live here. And while I do have enough money to live, I don’t really have enough to have much fun.

So I applied for a job as a Medical Scientist in Biochemistry at a hospital in a suburb of Melbourne called West Footscray. And as luck would have it, I managed to find a place to live in West Footscray as well, not too far from the hospital. And yeah, the job would definitely take time away from my writing, but it ends in early September and would also give me a little extra money so I could afford to actually go out and do stuff, which would be nice.

Well, I didn’t get the job. Which means I moved out to West Footscray for absolutely no reason. But hey, at least the rent is cheap and my housemates are really, really cool. So it’s not all bad.

Also, I did get offered another job.

Back in China.

Yeah, I ended up mentioning to my old boss that I didn’t get the postdoc I’d originally applied for in Australia, so he talked to our collaborator from my most recent research project and they somehow arranged it in a way I don’t fully understand for me to have a job as a Research Scientist at Beijing Normal University.

Which would mark the first time in quite a while that the word “normal” would be associated with me in any way, but regardless it was pretty flattering. I asked if I could start in November at the earliest, since my parents have already booked their non-refundable tickets to come visit me over here from late September to late October, and they said that shouldn’t be a problem.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot, and no matter how I look at it I really don’t see what else I can do. If I get a job here in Australia, it defeats the whole purpose of coming here. But if I don’t work at all, I won’t be able to afford to have any fun, and I’ll be flat broke by the time I leave. If I must get a job, I’d rather do it in China, where I’ll be pretty much guaranteed to get more papers, and since they’re doubling my salary I’ll have plenty of money to have fun in Beijing. Plus I’ll be living downtown, which means I wouldn’t have to spend an hour standing on a subway to get anywhere interesting.

So now I have five months to become a commercially successful writer. Is this possible? Theoretically, yes. In his book on how he sold a million ebooks in five months, appropriately entitled How I sold a Million Ebooks in Five Months, John Locke explains how to, well, sell a million ebooks in five months.

Now that’s good advertizing right there.

A large part of his foolproof marketing scheme involves Twitter. I fucking hate Twitter. But I like money, so I signed up. It was just as bad as I expected. I started “following” other writers, which is like stalking but way less interesting, and I was immediately put off by all the blatant and incredibly lame self-promotion a lot of them were doing. (This is not, by the way, what John Locke encourages people to do.)

I quickly found that I could not take any of it seriously. Yes I want to sell my stories and make my living as a writer, but I just can’t bring myself to do a lot of the bullshit things people on Twitter are doing to promote their books.

And I don’t know why I’m doing this exactly, but more and more I’m finding my efforts turning into a parody of all the advice I’ve gotten so far. I honestly can’t bring myself to take it seriously, but it’s actually kind of fun to not take it seriously. I created a new blog (I now have four in total) to promote my writing and editing efforts, and I’m going to stick with Twitter because I actually have met some cool aspiring authors on there and if nothing else I got to fulfill my lifelong dream of using the phrase “penis goes there” in casual conversation, but I just can’t bring myself to be pushy or insincere.

But I do have a request to make of everyone reading this: if you have the time and inclination, go ahead and post random, funny, inappropriate, relevant, irrelevant, or meaningless comments on my other blog. The funnier or more random the better.

I do have my priorities, and it’s more important to me to have fun and (hopefully) entertain other people as well than to sell books at any cost.

Just in case you missed it, the link to my other blog is here:

 http://vizproductions.blogspot.com/