Discussion → stuff to do to be a writer

  • Hedge.thumb
    Oct 14, 02:09pm

    We found this bit at the New Yorker: http://www.newyorker.com/humor/2009/10/19/091019sh_shouts_weiner

    All the Blog/RSS/twitter/etc things authors have to do these days start getting overwhelming.

    What are your thoughts about these new responsibilities? Silly? Or essential when all these new methods of communications are popping up? Are you somewhere in the middle?

  • Fictionaut.thumb
    Meg Pokrass
    Oct 14, 02:41pm

    I'm finding that i need to enjoy what i'm doing, even w/ FB, Twitter, blogging... otherwise it feels/looks phony. I can tell when authors are forcing themselves to "do the right thing" and i don't like the way it feels when i encounter that. It seems cheapening - but that may be a stilted, old fashioned way of thinking about it. Perhaps we have to find our own ways of doing this stuff, making it interesting... don't know.

  • Hedge.thumb
    Oct 14, 02:44pm

    Yeah, I agree... it seems like some of these things are being injected into the world of what it means to be a public persona - but we haven't had as much time to figure out how to pull something like this off (we're used to the usual readings, etc sorts of promotion..)

  • Daviderlewine.thumb
    David Erlewine
    Oct 14, 03:06pm

    Great thread, Anna, thanks for posting it.

    Like Meg, I have to enjoy what I'm doing or I sound phonier/more awkward than usual.

    I am a lot more comfortable on facebook/twitter/my blog than I was a few months ago. Laura Ellen Scott shamed me about my blog, posting a note on hers saying "David Erlewine has a blog and is afraid to use it." She also then helped me figure out how to link things on my blog (yeah, I was actually putting the entire link into my actual blogpost).

    I often feel like the saddest kind of whore - one who squawks and squawks but rarely gets paid. Seriously, though, I sometimes overdo the self-promotion and just feel like an ass. I now just try to post links on my blog and on twitter/facebook when I get things published online, etc. Often "friends" from various points in my life post notes like "great job!" and "liked it!" Sometimes I wonder if they even opened the link.

  • Rg.thumb
    Roxane Gay
    Oct 14, 04:14pm

    I don't find the social networking stuff overwhelming but I do think we're going to reach a place of saturation. I love Fictionaut but when I signed up, I told myself this is the last socially-oriented platform I'm going to participate in because there are only so many places where one can be.

    The important thing is not to give all the online networking stuff more time or importance than it deserves. Despite what people think, I spend more than a half hour a day really playing around on social networking sites (F'naut excluded) and then I move on to things that matter like grading and television.

    People often construe net.ubiquity as popularity. They start to take it all seriously, thinking there is meaning when they have x number of followers on a given platform. I have seen people act very strangely, badly and jealously because of social networking so I love the tools but I am cautious.

    Writers succeeded before Twitter and blogs and Facebook and the truly great ones will continue to succeed without using these tools.

    That said, as writers, most of us want our work to be read and in this day and age, with so much excellent content available from a wide range of publications, you have to let people know when you have new work out there. You have to send up the bat signal.

  • Rg.thumb
    Roxane Gay
    Oct 14, 04:16pm

    In that second paragraph, I spend NO more than half an hour being silly on Twitter/Facebook/Etc.

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    Tim Jones-Yelvington
    Oct 14, 04:46pm

    My feeling abt this is it should be more abt promoting a community than promoting oneself. I think the folks most successful w/ the web tools are the ones who blog, etc abt a lot more than just themselves. But I also think it sucks and is really problematic for shy people, or introverts, or folks who just want to focus on the writing, or have familial obligations, etc, that self promotion is increasingly expected for writers to reach readers.

  • Hedge.thumb
    Oct 14, 04:58pm

    It's interesting that the community afforded by all these new methods of communication does democratize things a bit - allows any writer to promote himself, really.

  • Rg.thumb
    Roxane Gay
    Oct 14, 08:12pm

    Anna definitely. At the same time though, it only democratizes things for those privileged enough to have Internet access, disposable time, a computer, etc.

  • Hedge.thumb
    Oct 14, 10:29pm

    Yep, surely still a luxury. But many more of us can access a public library with a dial up connection, then a cafe with Gertrude Stein ready to discuss buttons ;)

  • Hedge.thumb
    Oct 14, 10:30pm

    (Although I'm not sure, maybe Stein would have taken a shine to twitter.)

  • Garson2.thumb
    Scott Garson
    Oct 14, 10:44pm

    makes sense that this was in the NY'er. they seem to me pretty invested in the old idea of writer as intellectual celebrity......

    from that angle, it's funny, right? that a Writer should have to befriend readers on fb and such--or worry that if s/he doesn't, that's one less reader.... It's beneath the dignity of an intellectual celebrity (and that's what should sell the books within this model, i guess
    --the celebrity itself....)

    (btw, i'm so NEVER going to buy another A.M. Homes book..... after she let my friend req. slide? no way.)

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    P. H. Madore
    Oct 15, 09:26am

    I think a few not-so-great writers would never have made it, and that's good (without the internet) and a few really great writers might never have made it, and that's not good. I think underneath it all we're all still doing the same thing. I also think we are forced to learn lessons much earlier than previous generations--everything you do online is forever, for the most part, and that sucks if you ever change your mind about something.

  • Fictionaut.thumb
    Meg Pokrass
    Oct 16, 11:57am

    i know a writer personally, who in my opinion, is the one of the very best short story writers around - and who had not embraced the new technologies. He does not have a blog, or any other outward facing device. This writer is getting depressed, because his stuff if not getting accepted by the "big" mags, which is where it should be at this point (so clearly) and he does not use any social networking tools at all - and refuses to. He is "old school". I am so concerned about people like him, who do not know how to use/or want to use these tools - when so many of us do know how to use them, and have created a presence (i guess, I'm admitting that i think i have done that). Having googled his work like hell, and sitting there mute w/ respect and admiration for his skill, it's just very saddening.

  • Profile.thumb
    Dave Clapper
    Oct 16, 01:03pm

    So, in the spirit of what TJY said about the best networkers also being those who blog/tweet/whatever most about others and building the community (which I totally agree with), why not share this great writer's name? I'd certainly like to know it, so I can start googling him myself.

  • Daviderlewine.thumb
    David Erlewine
    Oct 16, 02:06pm

    Tim, well put. Quite.

    I'd be interested as well, Meg, fwiw. It's so sad to hear about this talented, depressed guy.

  • Joe.thumb
    Joseph Young
    Oct 16, 02:53pm

    it's exhausting and exhilarating.

  • Rg.thumb
    Roxane Gay
    Oct 16, 03:07pm

    I definitely agree about the importance of community building. As someone above noted, it is almost more important to support other writers (not just anyone, but those whose work you enjoy and respect). I'm a competitive person but I also believe if one great writer succeeds, some of that success can (indirectly) be shared by all great writers.

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    Ben White
    Oct 16, 04:16pm

    It's true—there's definitely something to be said for 'knowing' the writers that appear alongside you in a publication, for being excited to be featured together and to genuinely feel happy for their success (and not just because it makes you look better). I think the current trends in making an internet-presence makes that possible in a new way. Don't get me wrong, writers obviously befriend other writers before the internet. But the scale of this possibility—and the amount of direct communication possible with readers—is unique.

    Scott's point I think is right on.

    In the end, writers are people. I guess the modern reader wants to be reminded of that.

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