13 September, 2012
Social Networking: A Manic Endeavor
This post is not meant to be helpful. It's going to be equal parts complaint, rant, and maybe lame. It might even be slightly out of character for this blog. But since I might implode otherwise, this post will continue on.
So. I'm a writer. I do that thing where you think things about people and places that never existed and they come out your fingers. But...not as creepily as that just made it sound. My passion is fiction. I get a thrill from reading it and a not-so-different thrill from making it up myself. When I'm not creating people and places and things in their respective universes, I like to talk about them and about my part in them. For any of you who are writers, you know it's not so much an egotistic urge as it is pure, child-like glee.
However, I'm not supposed to talk about my writing no matter how Christmas-is-only-days-away it makes me feel. At least, not where people can see it. According to so-called experts of that hideous monster, Social Media, no one cares about my writing or my product (in my case, a story). People want to know me personally on my blog. As in what I had for breakfast, what I think about the latest bestseller, where to look for the best writing conferences, and how to become an expert in writing stories. Don't forget to be entertaining and witty, opinionated but with concern for everyone's feelings, personal but with a professional demeanor, transparent, and, above all, an expert in your field. Only these things will, eventually, hopefully cause people to buy my product because they like me so much.
And I want to scream, "WHY?"
I'm a writer. Like anything people spend time doing and as is so prevalent in the arts, I live and breathe writing. My passion is writing. I see characters in the people who pass me by. I admire sunsets and wonder what they look like on other planets and how I might describe the scene. How can it not come out? Why shouldn't I talk about myself and my writing on my blog?
Don't get me wrong - I get why the "experts" say all that. In today's marketplace, there's so much to choose from. How else do we know what to buy or endorse if we're not "friends" with the seller? If they make us happy, of course we'll buy what they want us to! We're all still selling our products but we have to act like we're not. We have to pretend to be friends.
This wears me out. I've spent hours researching social media habits, days perfecting my social writing. And you know what I've found? It's not me. It's not even sociable. It's a mask, a shaky house of cards that I've painted to look like what everyone else wants to see in me. It sucks.
Part of it is because I'm a social introvert. I'd rather let my thoughts and feelings out through my fiction or in weird little rants like this one. Designing everything on my blog for a specific impact is exhausting. How in the world does someone like me stand a chance in the big, wide online world next to aggressive social campaigns and people whose smooth talk comes so naturally?
Another part of my reticence is because my personal life is not all that interesting. It looks a lot like many people's lives. I don't really care if my life looks like a picture in a magazine or not. Why should anyone else? Who CARES? Seriously, do you care what I ate for breakfast and how it affected me? I certainly don't.
What I care about is my latest novel and how it came about. I poured my heart and soul into this and...it's good. My beta readers couldn't quit laughing - and that's actually what I set out to do! I'm going to begin editing it next week. I want to talk about how much I love it before I bemoan how badly I wrote the first draft so I can then laugh about how manic it makes my emotions. When it comes time to sell it, I want readers to buy it because it makes them laugh, because it's a good book, or because it's something out of the ordinary. I don't want them to buy it because I cajoled and convinced and schmoozed my way into their hearts with my sappy, well-edited personal stories.
That's why I write about writing. That's why I explore new, indie authors. That's why I'm constantly scrabbling to find time to add another sentence to a story.
I want to write. That's what I do. And I want to share that with you on my corner of the Internet. I want to blog about what I do - isn't that the whole POINT?
To be clear, I'm not saying social marketing is wrong or that people who like it or actively participate in it have anything to correct. I just suck at making myself look like something I'm not. And I don't really care to correct that.
That, of course, raises the question “Well, if you have so much angst over social media and networking, Jessica, why are you even doing it?"
A good question but one with an easy answer: I do this because I write. Writing today, sadly, means I have to participate socially in some way and preferably on the Internet. I hate doing it for myself but I do like "meeting" people online. If I follow your tweets, like your Facebook, or subscribe to your blog, it's because I like what I see. I think there's a good chance I'll like you. I'm not looking for a handout or someone to sell things to or extra PR for my blog. It isn't because the "experts" said I should. It's because you're interesting. If I buy your book or read your story, it's likely that it's because it looked cool.
I'm weird, I know - that's just me.