Many of us have Facebook friends we’ve never met, which is risky if security experts are to be believed, or completely normal if you happen to have a job that puts you in contact with the public. I’ve learned that the number of mutual friends in an online social network, for instance, is sometimes only an indication of how aggressively another person claiming those friends is campaigning or promoting something. But the number might also say that the person is a “champion Facebook networker,” to use J.D. Smith’s term. Fine with me.
Rob K. Omura is one of those people with thousands of Facebook connections. I caught up with him last week, and we became a little better acquainted.
Treated & Released: Robert K. Omura
Robin: We’ve been Facebook friends for a while now, Rob. I’m thinking it’s time I figured out who you are. This part in your “About Me” section is intriguing:
Who am I? I am who I’ve always been. Fifteen years without a word of prose or poetry was far too long, but sometimes life gets in the way. I have returned to the me I once was, at a time long, long ago—so long ago that at first I hardly recognized the man. So, I began writing again sometime in June or July 2006, poetry in December 2006. It’s funny, but the people who’ve known me forever are the least surprised by this sudden turnabout. The rust still flakes off when I write, but I don’t have to clean the keyboard nearly as often.
Where were you during those fifteen years?
Rob: I stopped writing when I hit the wall of the world of the mailed, no simultaneous submissions. I had a story held by a magazine for the next issue (waiting nine months), but then it didn’t appear and about three more months later I got a new letter saying there had been a change to the editorial staff and they were reviewing all the submissions. After another six months they got back to me and said that the editors couldn’t come to a consensus, sorry. I questioned what the hell I was doing. Two years to get one piece published? That was insane. Enough. So, I stopped writing. In the meantime, life got in the way…school, career.
I returned to writing quite by accident, and it’s because of MySpace. I had a client who was designing a social network, so I started looking at social networks and got hooked on the Lit forum. It made me start thinking about writing again. I moved on to other forums and groups and the positive feedback made me start writing again.
Robin: These days, it seems like you’re always off climbing glaciers or mountains or doing something fun. Are you still practicing law?
Rob: I still practice law. I have since 2008 returned to do my master’s but I still find time to work with some of my clients, mostly in the corporate commercial or real estate area.
Robin: You studied environmental law. For a while you specialized in commercial and family law. You’re currently focused on education and intellectual property law, right? Are there any plans to narrow your practice to entertainment law?
Rob: More accurately, I am still working on my thesis in environmental law. I don’t have any intentions of narrowing my practice to entertainment law, mostly because it is a pretty specialized area. I’ve thought about it a few times but because it’s so specialized there are only a few people who practice it full time. Most of my work remains in the corporate commercial and real estate area, although I do dabble in other areas from time to time. Of course, I’ve offered advice from time to time to those who’ve found themselves in copyright or intellectual property disputes. Most of the work I’ve done in this area tends to lean heavily toward corporate issues.
Robin: I Googled you and found your poem “Googled,” which made it doubly emblematic. You seem to enjoy transparency. Are you a bit of an exhibitionist? Or are you hiding in plain sight?
Rob: I am not much of an exhibitionist, I’m afraid, although there was that one time in college… I may enjoy transparency, at least in my writing, which tends to come from a need for clarity and honesty. I’ve found that when you aren’t honest in your writing it shows and this is particularly so with poetry. Poetry by its very nature is self-reflective. But I am a fairly private person. I’m not the sort of person who seeks attention. Do you believe it?
Robin: No. (laughing)
What’s the best thing that’s happened to you as a direct result of befriending almost 5,000 people and groups on Facebook?
Rob: I think one of the best things about these social networking sites is the ability to network with people all over the world. It has allowed me to keep up with people from the past and to meet new people with similar values, ideas, and interests. How wonderful is that?
The best thing about getting to know that many people on FB is the whole networking thing. Here are people I can learn from and chat with about something we share…a love of the written word. Writing is a lonely, solitary act…so it’s good to have some tangible connection to other writers, readers, and editors. Who knows what I’ll learn next from them? I’m always learning something new (even if it’s what not to wear).
Robin: Where is your creative writing headed?
Rob: I’m still heading down the road I originally started and that is to eventually get a novel done. Poetry was something that happened along the way. I don’t really consider it sidetracking because anything that can help me improve my writing is always a good thing. Still, I don’t really consider myself a poet. I consider myself a fiction writer. Problem I have with my fiction is too many starts and not enough finishes. I have about a half-dozen uncompleted manuscripts. I would like to get that done—at least one good manuscript. Part of the problem is I tend to be a bit thematic when I write, so it’s important that all the elements line up to elucidate that theme. I don’t really know what the market is like for magic realism as well. So, as I develop my manuscripts I’m trying to be aware of its potential marketability. Perhaps I’ll be doing readings in front of the mirror. In the meantime, I believe I have enough published and unpublished poems to put together a decent chapbook. I might spend some time putting a chapbook together first. Anybody interested?
Robin: Will you be at the AWP annual conference in Denver?
Rob: I doubt I will be down for the AWP in Denver, but you never know. I’d like to do something like that and meet some of those amazing writers I’ve met along my own journey. I guess we’ll have to see how things pan out. Anybody have a cot for a lost writer from Canada for the week? I’m pretty quiet and take very little space.
Robin: If any of his other Facebook friends are still wondering…
Robert K. Omura resides in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, where he lives from oil plumes, surrounded by vistas and all the trappings of modern living. He prefers to spend his days hopping mountain ridges in the Rockies, where there is nothing else to consider but the next step and the majestic views, and sometimes he even dabs the wet ink and ties words on to lines. His fiction and poetry appears or is forthcoming in numerous literary journals, ezines, and anthologies including the New York Quarterly. His poetry aired on CBC Radio for National Poetry Month in April 2008. He is a 2009 Pushcart nominee. Sometimes he works on his novel, and at other times, he drinks coffee, sighs, and wonders when he’ll get back to work on his novel.