Jon Katz over at Bedlam Farm posted an interesting article about the new world of writing. It seems like everyone these days, including myself, is struggling with the idea of what the writing world is becoming. As writers—i.e., people who subsist on attracting the attention of others—changing media formats can be a frightening prospect. We live and die by our exposure to our target audiences. When the nature of that exposure diminishes or is reformatted, we struggle to keep ahead of the curve.
Jon Katz says that the new writer will no longer be a sequestered, attic-dwelling hermit living off publisher’s advances and refusing to participate in the outside world. The new writer is someone who actively engages the world, running websites, hosting events, coordinating with Facebook and Twitter and tumblr and all the rest of them and beating down doors to sell copies of his book. It sounds manic, and I’m not entirely looking forward to it. But that’s mostly because it’s unexplored territory and there’s nothing in my experience to guide me through it. It’s all guesswork. Will this work? Will that work?
Try it and find out.
There’s nothing I’d rather be doing than writing, but it’s a little scary at times. There’s no sure outcome, but I suppose that’s true for almost everything. You make your way, you get through it, and you come out the other side with some lessons. My hurdle at the moment is not only writing my book, but developing my online presence. I’m learning the tools to do that, and it’s a tricky but rewarding journey. Seeing followers slowly accumulate and meeting people and making contacts is definitely a huge incentive to keep going. There’s nothing more pleasing as a writer than finding people who are interested in your work and want to know more about what you’re doing.
So here we go! I will do this as long as I can, and I will enjoy every step of it. Even the rejections are a step forward, because if you’re smart you learn from it. Only the prospect of failure is intimidating, but I feel oddly convinced that when it comes down to it, that really isn’t a possibility. I believe in what I’m doing, and I feel certain that with passion and dedication there will be reward.
It’s good to see you posting again, Pearson. For me, the writing was the easy part compared to the online presence. I do have a website and my blog, but am woefully lacking at Facebook, Twitter, etc. I have picked up readers/buyers through my blog, and they have left reviews for me, so that has definitely been a positive. The amount of time I spend with my own blog and those of others is nearing *full-time* job status though. I’ll have to find a way to optimize my online time when I start writing again. Good luck to you as you jump back into the fray – and good luck to you with your writing.
Yeah, it seems like everyone I know is being snagged by the problem of online presence, and “building your brand” as an author. It’s a mysterious thing! Where to begin?
I dunno, but I enjoy social networking for the most part, and learning to apply those rules to the “author me” as opposed to the “everyday me” is kind of a fun experience. It’s taking a lot of dogged work, but I can see results already, and that’s exciting.
However, if you have any tips, I’d love to hear your suggestions =)
I’d say for the past two years (although it has been longer for other people) the “necessity” of an online presence has really torn at me. It’s a bit dramatic, I know, but I have such a terrible time with it that it causes me anxiety. In fact, the anxiety, as I recently discovered, is far more oppressive than I had realized. About a year or a year and a half ago I completed my first novel. Really completed it. Sent it to an editor and paid to have it edited. I did this to tell myself that I was serious about it. I am serious about it. But, in my first year of having it completed I was only able to send it out to five places. Later, I tried three new places. The process and attempt to rework my query letter and send out my submission ended with me crying over my computer about how I couldn’t do it. I was surprised at my reaction. I hadn’t realized I was so terrified of the whole thing. This feeling has extended into the need of being present online. I don’t want people to know me. I want them to see my work as separate than me. Of course, here I am writing a personal experience on a public forum. I notice the irony, but it doesn’t relieve the anxiety.
I’m acquainted with many writers, but few of them know I write or they have a vague knowledge I’m interested in writing. I was sitting at a table with a couple of them as they talked about this very subject. Both of them are quite adept at social media and self-promotion. One thing said and agreed upon was that those who are not present online would be left behind (this was also in regard to everything). I nodded in silence, but inside my heart dropped, “I’m going to be left behind,” I thought. “All my work will become dust and vanish as if it never existed. As if I never existed.” I believe it was Hemingway that said (please correct me if I am wrong) “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” I know he may have meant putting your heart into it while simultaneously feeling pain, but I don’t feel this way about writing. I think some days it is so hard, and my heart has poured into every word or other days I can’t get the blood to flow, and some days when everything is perfect, I go away and all that lives at that moment is the world I’m creating. Bleeding comes when I try to fit into the modern world of publishing and promoting.
But like you said, you have to try right? Even one day crumpled sobbing over the computer while sending off a submission, and telling everyone how you sent off your submission as you post a photo of yourself smiling is better than never trying. Right?
you’re absolutely right, that was Hemingway. And what a post! That’s very powerful Leta. And I’m trying for the life of me to find your blog, but I can’t find it anywhere.
In any case, you’ve said something very true here, and I relate to you entirely. It is scary, frightening, horrifying even sometimes to consider the vastness of the task ahead. It looms beyond us with unimaginable and unseen boundaries, stretching off in every direction like the night.
I’m not sure how I’m going to manage either. I wish it were as simple as writing a book, editing it, sending it to an agent and then getting published. Now, however, we have to be our own marketing agents, and self-promotion is at the core of this. Most writers have the tendency to be recluses, to be sheltered behind the veils of our own minds. There is the world, and then there is us. The two seldom meet, and we’re happy to keep it that way. “I don’t know what you’re all about, but you just stay over there, ok? I’ll do my thing over here and let’s just leave each other alone, shall we?”
That’s been most of my life. I have to say that I think I’ve learned to be optimistic about this though. I’ve read so many experiences of authors who’ve been published and figured it out that I feel like my chances are good as well. I may not be the next Conn Iggulden or Rowling or Bernard Cornwell or Stephen King, but there’s every reason to believe that I can, and will, be published, and that I’ll be ok. It’s a dark road ahead, but I can make my own light, so I’m not worried about what’s at the end.
Yes. Yes. Yes. Exactly, an unimaginable vastness. I’m grateful for your optimism. Especially since you relate. If you can relate to my fears and still have discovered an optimistic even rewarding approach then perhaps I too can find an optimistic approach. This, the ability to communicate and relate to another writer struggling and learning when we live in different parts of the country, is one of the wonderful things about the online presence.
I should mention that my name is Adrienna (leta, short for Letafae is my mom’s name). First step to getting known as a writer: introduce yourself. Baby steps.