I know an old lady who swallowed a fly…

So here’s the trajectory. I take a year off to work on a novel and short memoir pieces. Then I start a blog in order to put something out there, get some attention. To push traffic to the blog I post my work and comments on facebook. Now in order to get more traffic to FB and the blog I’m told I should tweet.

While the things I’m swallowing are, unlike the nursery rhyme, getting smaller not bigger, the idea is the same. Anyway, as the French writer Pascal said “I'm sorry I wrote you such a long letter; I didn't have time to write a short one.” Shorter is not necessarily easier.

Self-Promotion, in the sense of please look at me has become it’s own form of writing. This blog may not read as a brochure for the rest of what I do, but in a way it is. It’s a calling card I’m not leaving in enough places.

I had lunch recently with my old friends Anne, Mary and Barb. My “writing career” and decision to leave the stable realm of pensionable employment got more than its fair share of airtime.

“Can’t you just hang in there for another eight years?” Anne asked. “It’s a lot to give up.” I’d have Kathy Bates play her in the movie version of my adult life. Cranky, tough, no holds barred, with a twenty-year successful event consulting business and no stability whatsoever under her belt. I’m glad she asked. It forced me to reconfirm my decision. NO.

“Who’s your audience for this blog?” Friends, family, FB friends, and a bunch of others now and again. It’s not growing.

Aside from a demographic breakdown care of google analytics that provides numbers, how long they stay, when they come, and how many are from China, Australia, Sweden, I have no clue who they are, only that they aren’t enough.

Besides anyone and everyone please, my primary audience is writers. So there’s my wonderful gang from this summer’s retreat with Joyce Maynard and Robert Bausch, my writing buddy Margaret, my friend Nina, and my cousin in Pittsburgh (Ariela, are you still there?). I don't know if other writers read me.

What am I doing to change all this? I whine about it regularly.

“Have you surveyed them?” Anne asks. Too scary. What if no one responds?

And the next question: “Do you tweet?”

Urgh. One of my current most un-favourite questions. I hate the ones where the answer is not just NO, but no, and I know I should.

Mary pipes in with “You guys are so modern.” She’s a human rights lawyer and committed luddite. Fact is I’m desperately unmodern, a disinclined adopter. I want nothing more than for all this to happen without a single tweet from me. Good old word of mouth. “Have you heard about Aviva? She’s writing some fine stuff at her house.”

“Send, send, send,” Barb says. “Never give up. You have a voice to be heard and no, they won’t just come to you.” I love friends.

This morning my dad likened the project to getting a snowball up a snowy hill. The ball of material gets bigger and bigger as you go, but until you get to the top, and inertia, gravity or eminence take over, there’s simply a lot of pushing and grunting.

The thing about writing, or any form of art, unlike being a lawyer, a doctor, a teacher, a plumber, is you can’t see the top before you get there, can’t know how far away you are, or if you’ll ever arrive. You can see others at the top, but it’s not your top. For some of us there will only be pushing. Nothing else will take over. So we’ve got to love it and figure the pushing is its own kind of top.

If I have to chose between it’s all uphill or it’s all downhill…what do I pick?

I signed up for a twitter account today. When and what I tweet remains to be read. I’m about to swallow a cow and I’m feeling resentful.

 

 

Comments

I am all for concise writing, but the notion of 140 characters or less as meaningful in any way just hits me as WRONG. Not morally wrong, but a wrong headed notion, especially for a writer. Still, it's that thing they call a "platform." And honestly, I think it's promoted all the more by writers who seek the distraction. Is it, perhaps, easier to tweet about the work than to do the work?

I'm totally still here ;). And I second the above comment. Tweeting, at least for me, is a waste of time; I'd rather use my time to write, you know, real things.

Hm, something to consider. Can it be short and real?

 

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