Pinterest: A Fiction Writer's Paradise by Catherine Czerkawska
|Going bananas in the Canaries|
As far as my fiction is concerned, I'm what has come to be known as a pantser rather than a plotter. I write by the seat of my pants and hardly ever do anything but the most sketchy of outlines. In fact I've always disliked people asking me for detailed outlines of proposed projects. I could never stick to them. I tend to know the beginning and the end of a novel or play, but write to find out how to get there. If I already know how I (or more precisely the people in the story) get there I become bored and give up. I know, because I've done it a few times, on occasions when the people I was working with - mostly agents - demanded ever more highly refined outlines. By the time I'd finished them, I would invariably think, 'Who cares? Not me,' and shelve the project.
|Ice Hockey and a lot more.|
Anyway, back to Pinterest. Statistically, Pinterest is frequented by far more women than men. There's probably a whole PhD project in there as to why that should be: what is it about women that makes them love to collect and share so many visual images and related thoughts? But really, the words are minimally important on Pinterest. It's the images that absorb, inspire and cheer.
I'm well aware that it's the Marmite of social networking. You either get it immediately and love it, or don't get it at all and loathe it. I love Marmite and Pinterest both. For those who haven't yet tried it, it's a very simple site to engage with. You make 'boards' and you populate your boards with pictures, your own images uploaded or pictures repinned from other people's boards. You can express preferences and interests so that what you see relates to what you like. You can 'follow' other people's boards and they can 'follow' you. You can browse beautiful images for hours on end. You can always find exactly what you are looking for to spark your imagination (it must be a dream for Creative Writing teachers!) and perhaps most important of all, from a writer's point of view, you can make the equivalent of the 'mood board' created by an interior designer. I'm sure interior designers must use it too, for their own more traditional mood boards.
|San Sebastian de la Gomera|
I also have a board on there called Textiles I love and since many of my novels reflect my own interest in antique textiles, that too is a source of ideas and inspiration. But there are - it turns out - masses and masses of textile nuts on Pinterest and it's very easy to connect with like minded souls.
There are only a few rules. You don't pinch people's images for commercial use, and you need to be aware that if you upload your own photographs to Pinterest, which I do all the time, the potential is there for somebody to use them in ways you hadn't intended. But in practice, it works pretty well, since most of what you are uploading are quirky images connected with ideas, moods, objects, visual jokes.
I love this aspect of it, because it's far more subtle than the stream of 'buy my wonderful book + link' tweets which glide past my eyes every time I'm on Twitter. I've been using Twitter on and off for a couple of years, I quite like it for sharing quirky tweets and having the odd conversation. I've also found it useful for following certain events in the news when the BBC coverage proved to be woefully inadequate, and I've even sold some short stories as a direct result of a Twitter contact with an old colleague. But I've only ever bought one book on there as a result of a tweet from a stranger, and that was mainly because the tweet itself was so intriguing. (The book - called Prospero's Mirror - was good too!)
But I think Pinterest is a different matter and I also think its usefulness for writers has only just begun. It's a way of communicating with readers without getting into wordy debates, of contacting without the hard sell, of sharing visual stimuli. I know I've sold novels on there without even trying - just because some fellow collector or afficionado has thought 'ooh, antique embroidery' or 'ooh, Ice Hockey.'
I'm hoping that when Orange Blossom Love is published later this month, somebody might look at those images on Pinterest and think 'ooh, the Canary Isles, guitars, sunshine and a sexy Spaniard.' But if they don't I won't really mind. Sales via Pinterest are a small bonus. It's the sharing of lovely images and thinking about the ideas and emotions behind them that matters. I sometimes find myself wondering if that's why - on the whole - women like it more than men. There's a nebulous quality about it that's very engaging, but the men in my life do tend to want to pin things down a bit too much. Ironically, pinning things down on Pinterest is a wonderfully vague activity. Your set of personal associations with an image will be quite different from my set of associations with an image. And that's fine by me. Somewhere, in the world of the imagination, we may meet, nod to each other in passing, and move on.