I stumbled across this Tumblr site a few weeks ago called Hey Author.
Whoever runs it is clearly an author, a reader, or someone who is fairly deep into the author culture on Twitter/Facebook. (And obviously has a bug up their ass about self-publishing). But as biting and obnoxious as some of the observations are, there’s a ring of truth to them too. (Some of them are completely over the top, but still – I’ve been “guilty” of several of them.)
I’m guessing the author of the tumblr is trying to point out that these “writer problems” are pretty low on the list of real world issues. (But I suspect most artistic problems are. Writers aren’t the only groups who self-wank themselves into thinking they’ve got an emergency out of nothing – lots of artists do it too. Hell, most self-insulated groups do it, from the HOA to the PTA to gaming forums to pretty much anything that involves people and some sort of creative/social bent.)
But I guess it kind of goes back to the need of self-promotion so many of us are required to do. Get on Twitter or Facebook and make connections, and hopefully get to know people and sell books. Right?
That, and as most of us know, writing can be a fairly isolating project to undertake. The story is in our heads, after all – it’s up to us to get it down somehow. So it’s more than understandable that many of us DO tweet that we’re writing or editing. For some, it’s a way to feel like they’re in a group project – shared suffering, perhaps, or encouragement. For others, it’s about connecting to their readers.
On the other hand, how much is too much? It’s clear by the tumblr above that some people are probably tired of hearing about word counts. (In which case, easy solution? Stop following said person, duh. I’ve had several good friends stop following me on some of these platforms, simply because they aren’t writers and they really do NOT care that I’m editing or writing or revising or whatever. Which is fine – I know these people well and IMs and phone calls are a far better way to communicate personally, anyway.)
Maybe it’s about ego. After all, I truly doubt people give two shits what I’ve found at Target or what I have for breakfast, but that doesn’t stop me from tweeting it sometimes. So why tweet about it at all?
I mean, we don’t see GRRM tweeting about his word counts, right? Or many of the big “name” authors, for that matter. Maybe they’re lousy at social networking. Or they have other things to worry about. If you’ve already got thousands of followers and readers, you’re probably not overly concerned with connecting to them. At some point, it’s not actually about building the platform anymore. The author *is* the platform, and I imagine things look a bit different from that vantage point. (Ask me someday if I should get there and I’ll let you know. ;-))
I have the vague theory that those of us who aren’t best sellers and known names require additional validation at times. It’s hard when you’re trying to make your voice heard above so many others. Maybe by tweeting about what we’re doing, we make ourselves feel like it’s somehow worth doing. Like OUR work is worth talking about.
Sometimes it feels like we’re just throwing all our words out into the void.
Which in theory, is what being a writer is all about. We see it often enough. “Writers write because they have to.” There’s a purity in that – someone writing regardless of reader interest. (Like we’re all sitting in a cabin in the woods somewhere, eyes red-rimmed and drunk and pounding out the story on an ancient keyboard, every word perfect and filled to the brim with potential. And if we don’t get it out it will consume us as we spiral into a cocaine-filled stupor. Or something.)
It’s a quaint and rather romantic way of looking at it. Most of us who write also need to feed ourselves and our families. If we want to try to make a living off of writing, we have to sell. It’s a rather simple principle.
Also? Sometimes it’s just nice to know people are listening.
And speaking of listening and self-promo, here’s a couple of links for the day.
Second – I also have an interview up over a Dark Faerie Tales, so go check it out! 😀