Traveling through Pinterest
Pinterest has been called a “A Database of Intentions.” In this article in “Atlantic,” co-founder of Pinterest Evan Sharp said, “I define it as a place where people can go to get ideas for any project or interest in their life. And as you encounter great ideas and discover new things that you didn’t even know were out there, you can pin them and make them part of your life through our system of boards.”
It’s another way of finding stuff on the Internet that’s decidedly different than Google, Facebook and Twitter. It’s visual, almost like stamp collecting or memory collecting, or what we used to do in another era, clipping pictures and recipes and vacation ideas out of magazines because they appealed to us for some reason or we think they might come in handy or they were just fun to look at.
It took me a while to warm up to Pinterest. When I went out there, I saw tons of recipes, pictures of celebrities, vacation type pictures of beautiful places, arts and crafts, pets, and I thought, really, do I want to look through strangers’ scrapbooks.
My feelings changed, I think, when I saw how much fun it was to pin pictures of things that mattered to me and then to find other boards created by people with similar interests. Then–for a writer, anyway–it became a bit more than a hobby. In some ways, it’s another way of doing research. The things that matter to me are the things I put in my fiction. Seeing other people’s boards on Pinterest can be a form of finding helpful facts and ideas.
My boards include those on Florida, Conjure, the Blues and The Crown of the Continent (Montana Rockies). I’m a long-time fan of jazz and the blues, my fiction is set mostly in Florida and Montana, and my latest novella is about a conjure woman. As authors, we’re often told to spend more time talking about the themes and subject matter of our books rather than giving book reports and sales pitches that (horrors) start sounding like SPAM if we do them too often.
So naturally, I’m going to talk about Glacier National Park, blues and jazz, folk magic, and the Florida Panhandle. Since I’m interested in these subjects and talking about them, it became natural to pin places on the Internet on one or more of my boards the way my mother used to clip recipes out of magazines. She wanted to try out those recipes and I want to learn more about my favorite subjects. Sometimes what I learn isn’t necessarily facts but more of a new way of seeing a subject. At other times, I’ve found some very informative sites.
If you’re new at writing and looking for something to say other than “buy my book,” Pinterest is an interesting place to (figuratively speaking) talk about the subject matter in your books. Almost every location setting, hobby, job description, and theme that you’re focusing on in your latest story or your next novel might make a great board on Pinterest. Pinterest is a project done over time. Surf around and pin a few things one one board or another on a lazy afternoon. Click on some of the pins others have placed. No need to rush it. After a while, your boards will begin to have depth and a collection of followers.
Who knows where it will lead. Twitter, I hear, isn’t doing as well as it once was. Maybe Pinterest will become boring after a while or lose favor with the masses like most CompuServe forums and Myspace. Until then, it’s work that doesn’t seem like work. Plus, when you least expect it, a picture of something somewhere may even lead to a new story idea!
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Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of “Conjure Woman’s Cat,” a novella with a lot of blues in it.