I Coulda Been a Sponge

Sponge Bob to be exact.

Last week Steve called me on my cell. He was at work setting up AV for a client. I was at home slogging through my latest synopsis.

Steve: "This client just told me they need someone to play Sponge Bob for an hour. They have a costume. Just need a body. I told her my wife does character work. I'll see if she's available. Are you?"

Me: "Um. I'd really rather not."

Steve: "It's just an hour and it pays <insert impressive sum>"

Me: "I'm the featured author on the Romance Junkies loop this week. I have a ton of questions I need to answer."

Steve: (over his shoulder to client) "My wife's also an author and she has prior obligations."

I hear the client say, "No problem. Thanks for trying." And I feel kind of bad for leaving them stuck, but not bad enough to change my mind. I really did have a lot of questions to answer for the RJ readers. But, truth told, I just didn't want to do Sponge Bob. Er, you know what I mean.

Sure, it entailed a mere five minute drive to the casino. A measely one hour of performance time for more money than I make pulling an 8-hour shift at the library. But, believe it or not folks, it takes a certain amount of confidence or free spirit to do character work. I wasn't feeling it. I didn't want to be a sponge. Sponge Bob to be exact. I mean he's not any ol' sponge. He's a famous sponge. With a particular voice and specific friends. I've only seen his show a couple of times. The gig was last minute. I didn't have time to prepare and I don't know his world well enough to improvise. I know he makes crabby patties, but I can't do a one-hour riff on that.

There was a time when I said yes to everything. There was a time when I thought nothing of zipping myself into a fat, fuzzy bumble bee suit or squeezing into a form-fitting super hero costume (to name two of many). I'm more selective these days. I'm more reserved. Then again writing is my passion these days, not performing.

J.A. Konrath had a recent interesting post about "What Makes a Good Blog."
#3 Stay Focused. Stick to one topic per entry, and make sure this topic is different from previous topics so your readership doesn't get bored. What is the reason for your blog? Do you have a reason?
Tess Gerritsen blogs about the ups and downs of being a bestselling thriller author. She doesn't water down her content with opinions about last night's episode of the Sopranos, lists of her favorite foods, meme tags, or life stories unrelated to publishing.
Hmm. Well, I just jumped topics. But I have a point. I am a huge fan of Konrath and Gerritsen's blogs. But I'm not Konrath or Gerritson. I will blog about things like last night's episode of the Sopranos (I just knew Tony's uncle was trouble!), and my favorite foods (or rather low-fat foods as I'm on a health kick). I'll talk about life stories, things like how I coulda been a sponge. They may seem unrelated to publishing, but they're not. Not for me. All of my entertainment experiences play into my stories and to a huge extent--networking in publishing. My insecurities about my appearance and other personal quirks play into my characters.

Each person's journey is unique. If every writer blogged about the same thing, before long a lot of readers would go back to channel surfing as opposed to blog hopping. The reason I blog is to inspire. If I can do it, you can do it. That's why I'm here. To inspire. To connect. In return the loyal readers of this blog inspire me. You've talked me through my sometimes painful, mostly exciting transition from full-time performer to (almost) full-time writer. Hey, I was just offered and turned down a gig. That's a big step for me. Okay, it wasn't Shakespeare, it was Sponge Bob, but that's not the point. What was my point? Oh, yeah...

You, me, and this blog. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for being here.


Jennifer Elbaum said…
Great post Beth. Good for you for invoking the "power of no"!

Keep plugging away at that synopsis!

Sounds like you're really prioritizing and putting yourself first. Bravo!
Arianna Hart said…
Good for you for saying NO! Now I just need to learn how to do it too, hahaha. Did I mention I just picked up teaching another class and I'll be coaching Caitlyn's soccer team?
What was that N word again?
I like hearing about people's lives in their blogs, I don't need a how to manual. Unless it's how to be a multi-talented lady like yourself!
Love ya Cookie!
Mary Stella said…
B, I'm proud of you for turning down the Sponge Bob gig. There's only just so much method acting one can do on short notice. *g*

I read JA Konrath's blog about blogging and realized that we're consistent in our own ways. I know that my blog is not about writing tips or the industry. It's about slices of life and I'm sticking to it!
Beth Ciotta said…
Jennifer, invoking the 'power of no' is new for me. Mary used to say she was going to get ma a T-shirt to wear that simply said... NO! :)

Ari, I don't know how you do it all. Oh, to have your energy!

Mary, I love the content of your blog as do many others. You need only look at your high readership statistics to know you're doing something right. ;)
Julia Templeton said…
I'm smiling at the image of you in a Sponge Bob suit, and proud of you for saying no...even though I know you stresed and had the guilts ;). Good girl! Baby steps...
chryscat said…
You did good, woman. And this blog is always a great place to visit. I love reading the posts and checking in with you.

HUGE congrats on the big "NO!". Those priorities are a shifting.

Now if it had been Patrick....lmao
FeyRhi said…
I couldn't disagree more with J.A.Konrath. Blogging to me is like an online journal about peoples live be they writers, chefs, or garbage collectors.
I tend to haunt blogs of authors more then others because I have an interest in the craft and I enjoy reading the author's work.
To read a blog where the person speaks of nothing but writing (or another spacific topic) would bore me and I might visit once in a while but not daily. Like yours and Mary's blogs to name two.
You never know when someone's life experience will trigger an idea or help you out of a blocked thought. Of course it it the perfect way to avoid writing and not feel guilty. I'm doing research! *BG*
Stacie said…
I can't believe you turned down a job as SpongeBob!

lol-- just kidding. Personally, I don't care for Spongey. Way to say NO, though! I'm a bit of a pushover too and I'm working on that also!

I'm glad you don't blog about ONE thing. You're right, it would get boring. But you do stick to pretty much one topic per entry, which I think is more of what Konrath was thinking.

LOVE the new blog! Although I will miss those smilies!!! But it looks like your loyal following, um, followed you here!

Keep up your fantastic blogging and good luck with the day-by-day exploration of Blogger!
Beth Ciotta said…
Hi Julie! Yeah, the image of me as Sponge Bob makes me smile too. The outer visual that is. Who knows what that costume was like on the inside. I bet the vision is limited. Probably hot in there as it's a full body costume, and, who knows what it smelled like in there! Ack!
Beth Ciotta said…
Chrys, Patrick is SB's starfish friend, right? I love his dopey voice. :) You're right. I think I'd have more fun as Patrick the dopey friend. :)
Beth Ciotta said…
Feyrhi, Konrath had some very good points in his overall post, many that I agree with. I understood what he meant in #3, but I'm not looking for an audience exclusively made up of any one segment. I enjoy a mix of readers from all walks of life. And, like you, I like to visit blogsters who write about their personal AND professional lives. Inspire me. Entertain me. Teach me something. Any one of those things will do!
Beth Ciotta said…
Stacie, as always it's a pleasure to see you here. Glad you like the new look. As to the smileys, I hope to add some at one point. One techy thing at a time. Today I added a 'counter'. One thing off my 'things to be added' list. :) Hope the writing is going well!
Gabriele C. said…
Who or what is Sponge Bob? I'm not much of a TV watcher and it shows. :)

I like blogs that are a bit of a Kinder egg; you don't know what the next post will be about. I also like the ones with a lot of interesting information (esp. about writing and publishing, of course), and I like a mix of both. I have a very motley bunch of blogs on my roll, some I check daily, some during my 'great rounds' every 3-4 days. My own is a mix of writing stuff, history, pics, a few book reviews and the occasional piece of fun stuff. Just what I feel like blogging about.

Keep us surprised and entertained. :)
Beth Ciotta said…
Gabriele, I forgot that Sponge Bob might not be familiar to our friends overseas. Go here to see what I could have been--Sponge Bob--and meet his friends. http://www.nick.com/all_nick/tv_supersites/characters.jhtml?show_id=spo&character=Spongebob
Sorry I don't know how to do a neater link. :)
Gabriele C. said…
Ah, that guy. Some channel here shows him, but when I see animated pics, I'm on the run. In fact, I'm on the run of most of the TV programs. :)

Links are easy, just use the usual html code: < a href= "http...." > click < /a > without the empty spaces.
Gabriele C. said…
from, not of the TV programs. ARGH
Beth Ciotta said…
Gabriele--WOMAN!--you're talking to a techno goober. Here in this comment block, I have no clue as to how to get to or use an HTML. *Sigh* I really should have been born in the 1920s.
Gabriele C. said…
Ok, we'll start easy.

< i > (without the empty spaces) opens a tag that makes all text italics until you close it by < /i >. Like this.

< b > does the same for bold text, and again, you close it with < /b >. everything in between will be bold.

The tag < a href=" lostfort.blogspot.com (or any other url) " > inserts a link, and is closed with < /a >. Again, without the empty spaces except the one between a and href. What you will see is the text between the < a href... etc > and the < /a > , and that makes for the clickable link.

Don't forget the " " in the last one.
Beth Ciotta said…
Gabriele, you're very kind. Thanks for the instructions. I'm going to create a pratice blog as Bob suggested and, well, practice. :)
Bethany said…
You really don't seem like the Sponge Bob type, so when I finally read that you said no--I was more than relieved. :-)

Now, as for blogging. When you blog, it has to work for the blogger. Staying 'on topic' will only get you readers in that niche--and it is all about marketing. I would argue (with JA) that the journal, every-day details/inspiration blog is also a *type if blog, and one that also is 'staying on topic' since that is your style (and mine). But maybe, that is me.

But me and you--as writers--we are online for a bigger purpose than JUST blogging. Now if that is ALL we were doing, I would agree with his statements a little more--as you'd be trying to attract readers for your blog. We are using it as a marketing mechanism.

Now I know I have turned all philisophical... I'll stop now. I haven't had coffee yet today and I am sure it is showing.
JA Konrath said…
My tips weren't about how to make a blog fun or even interesting. They were about how to increase traffic.

Blogging about a TV show you like or somethign funny your child did is fine--life should be blogged about.

But if you want people to link to your blog, to reference you in their blogs, to have your blog entries appear at high ranks on search engines, then I recommend focusing on a specific topic.

On another note, I think you missed a great opportunity by turning down the Spongebob role. You could have taken the costume home and cleaned your entire house in about eight seconds.

Plus you missed the chance at Spongebob sex.

The best romantic night of my life was when my wife wore that Kermit the Frog outfit...
Beth Ciotta said…
Point taken JA. I went back and reread your post. You did specify 'how to increase traffic'. *cringe*

On another note, let's talk SpongeBob sex. No, let's not. The mind boggles. Although I'm dying to hear the story about your wife as Kermit the Frog. She sounds like my kind of woman. Obviously, she's your kind of woman. Come on, come on. Live dangerously and veer off topic. Do tell! ;)

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