November is turning into the worst month for me as a writer. By the time it’s ten days old I’m already blitzed by endless word counts and pep talks about fiction. I love writing. I more and more hate being a writer. Being a writer these days is less about telling stories and more about getting your name out there.
I frankly don’t care if people know my name or not. I mean, I want them to know in a conversation because “hey, you, lady” is not my favourite way to be addressed. But as far as being Katherine Coble, Author goes I’m getting more and more meh on the concept. I don’t want people to know my name because I’m wheeling and dealing and schmoozing. I want them to know my name because they read my story and it clicked in their head. It struck a chord. Real writing takes a reader too; all work is only half done if it isn’t read because the reader brings the spark that ignites the fireworks. I can pack as much powder and smoke into it as possible, but it is still only potential.
Most of the really talented writers I know are trying earnestly to find their sparks. They just want to get their work into proper hands so that it can happen. But the most talented self-promoters of my acquaintance are mediocre writers at best. One person whom I knew only through other writers and who is no longer in my circle is a genius at self-promotion. Sadly, her work feels awful to me. Reading it is painful, almost a slap in the face. Because if you consider that a book takes two to fire on all cylinders it’s obvious as you read a self-promoter’s work that all they care about is being able to say they’ve written this or that novel. They don’t care about what the reader may bring to it, so they don’t bother working on a good readers’ experience. In reading the introductory sample passages in this author’s young adult story about angels I was struck at how much it was solely about the author, with no consideration for the reader. But she can go forth and proclaim that she has authored best-selling novels that are optioned for movies.
I don’t want to fall into the trap, though, of pretending like publicity is all foul filth and beneath the artiste. That’s not true. But what are you selling? Are you selling the book, the story, the experience or are you selling the You? I belong to my God, my spouse and my self. I would love for my stories to connect with the people they’re meant to connect to.
I’ve decided this November that writing is like a side salad at a restaurant. It’s mostly delicious if you get a good dressing, but there are always the icky bits. In order for it to be very good you have to eat it all together instead of piece by piece. But there are still the wilty lettuce edges and the occasional radish.