I liked the idea of posting this article, originally published in Red Herrings, the CWA Members’ Bulletin, given my complete volte-face…
MySpace, Facebook, Bebo: social networking sites and a free way to make contacts and connections and promote your work. A few months ago my dad emailed to ask if I’d be his friend on Facebook and my heart sank. I am your friend, Dad, in the real world, can’t we just leave it at that? My latest copy of The Writer’s Handbook exhorts me to get out there, blog it and flog it but still I balk.
I’m not a technophobe: I love my computer and I’m the only one in the house who can work the DVD recorder, so it’s not that. And I agree that self-promotion (the more shameless the better) is a necessity in these times when few of us get marketing campaigns or publicity budgets from our cash-strapped publishers. In fact twelve years ago, when Margaret Murphy suggested forming Murder Squad to do exactly that, I jumped at the chance. We did (and do) most of the organising online and via e-mail and the venture has proved an excellent way of raising our profiles and generating income from events we do. It might even have sold a few more books. At the last tally four of the seven squaddies had blogs (though one calls his a diary).
And I do like trying out new forms of writing. One of the projects I’ve enjoyed most was with www.the-phone-book.com and involved writing ultra short fiction that was published online and sent to WAP phones (no I don’t either).
So why do I resist? My reservations are random and don’t add up to any coherent position but for what they’re worth:
1) Isn’t it a bind? I can only just manage to keep my (shared) website and latest biog updated. Anecdotally, I met a famous blogger recently, Fiction Bitch, who turned out to be a friend (in the actual sense of the word – not the poking sort*) and who said writing two blogs every day was driving her demented, she ends up doing them late at night and sometimes a little the worse for wear but she couldn’t stop, having achieved some measure of success and notoriety. I guess the name helped.
2) What would I write about? I certainly don’t want to dissect the process of writing, I’m too busy actually doing it and I want it to retain that vaguely mystical, organic feel. And I don’t want to bleat about the vagaries of the publishing industry or complain about my ratings on Amazon or whatever. My personal life is just that, personal, so what’s left?
3) Reciprocity. It wouldn’t stop with what I wrote. People would add comments or respond and I’d have to answer them and visit their pages and it would mushroom. I might have to make friends with people I wouldn’t want to be friends with.
4) Where would I find the time? See above. Already life is busy, full; there aren’t enough hours in the day for all the things I’d like to do. So should I make space for something that I don’t really want to do? And sacrifice my writing time?
5) My posts would come back to haunt me. Like reading old diaries. Yikes, what I had for dinner (and tea), amusing tales of the dog and the budgie and who fell out with who in the playground. But IN PUBLIC.
Meanwhile the bandwagon rolls on; I can see it in the distance disappearing over the virtual hill in a cloud of virtual dust. I guess you’re all on it. Off to pastures new. Maybe one day I’ll join you, become a born again blogger or twitter-addict and exhort all the people I meet in workshops to get connected. Till then…Am I losing out? What do you reckon?
* It’s a Facebook thing.
So – what changed my mind? I’ll look at that next week…