The past month or so, I’ve gotten very frustrated with the online writing community. Not necessarily individuals; more, writers participating in social media as a whole. Let me explain a bit more before you run to get that tar heated up.
Writing by nature is an individual sport. It takes a lot of time alone to ponder and put words to paper. I get that. But with the recent boom in social media, many writers are now WRITERS period. They are #amwriting and #amediting, in between #litchat -ing and #fridayread -ing. Those are all wonderful things, and I love that people are connecting with others of similar interests online, but I wonder if they aren’t harming their personal lives with such an intense focus on one aspect of themselves to the exclusion of anything else. (Well, that and the fact that I’m going to go publishing on their @$$es soon if they don’t tone it down with the Truman Writing Show, all publishing, all the time.)
I bring this up because of a blog I read where a writer, with absolute sincerity, bemoaned the fact that 2010 was THE WORST YEAR EVER because her book wasn’t acquired by an editor, along with several other publishing-related traumas.
My first thought when I read it: Yes, but don’t you have a family and life outside of writing? This is where I imagine you will all think me heartless and cruel, but I couldn’t understand why, of all things, that was THE WORST THING THAT COULD HAPPEN TO HER. If she’d said in the post that something terrible had happened in her personal and family life in addition to not getting published, I would completely understand and sympathize, but she didn’t. Her whole world—and tragedy—dealt with writing.
As I scrolled to the end of the post (skimming most of the text), I saw several hundred responses, all of them, as far as I could tell, lamenting with her and telling of their own devastation at not getting published. I’m not exaggerating when I say hundreds, either.
That’s when it hit me: I’m annoyed with the online writing community because it’s so completely INSULAR and OVER-SATURATED.
It seems as though the rising generation of writers doesn’t know how to discuss anything but writing. Not their kids, not dinner, not what their boss said at work. It’s ALL WRITING ALL THE TIME, brought to you in surround sound. I’ve been searching for the mute button, and I’m thinking it might be hiding under the “unfollow” button.
The sad thing, though, is that I imagine most of these WRITERS are great people, but all I ever see is the WRITER. Is that all their families see, too? I hope not.
While I work as a publishing professional and consider books my first love, you won’t always hear me discussing publishing trends or who just got a book deal. You’re going to see stuff about my boring personal life, including how nauseatingly cute my niece and nephew are, and how my sister’s kitten is on a mission to scale Mount Christmas Tree, hunting and killing ornaments as he makes his way to the peak. I’ll probably also link to articles about boring but important current events and political stuff, though I’d be remiss if I didn’t throw a random adorable kitteh video in the mix.
Basically, if all you want to know is about publishing, I’m not the one to follow. I’m an individual with so many diverse and bizarre interests that even I can’t keep track of all of them—but I’ll let you try since I’ll be tossing out plenty of them via tweets and posts and links.
All I’m asking is this: be a whole person. You are not your writing, though it is one part of you. Just one. I’m sure there are other facets to who you are and ask pretty pretty please that you show us some of those other sides, not just this constant diet of WRITING.
I thank you for the reprieve in my tarring so I could vent a bit. Just be gentle with the chickens while plucking their feathers.
P.S. Just so you don’t think I’m speaking of that which I know not of, I’ve been writing fiction diligently for the past seven years, with two completed manuscripts, several others in the queue, dozens of rejections, and no agent, editor or book deal. I’ve even been rejected—multiple times—by friends and colleagues in the industry, including the publisher where I worked for three years. I know it’s not easy, but it’s not my entire life, either.