I've been thinking since my last post, wondering exactly why it might be that I'm reluctant about blogging my life as a writer. The lovely Beth Revis, author of Across the Universe, wrote about social media the other day on her blog, and her message first and foremost is this: You don't have to do anything.
"The analogy I use is this: social media is like a cocktail party. Come to the party if you want to. At the party, meet new people, reconnect with others. It's a business party, so it's okay to talk shop, but it's not okay to monopolize the conversation and push yourself or your product on other people. Be polite. You can be a social butterfly or a wallflower; you can come with a thousand friends or not. It's up to you. You don't want to come to the party? Don't. You want to leave early? Do."
I agree with that. I like the actual social aspect of media. The meeting people bit, the person-to-person contact. But my reluctance, or rather fear, stems from something else. Something I can't quite articulate. Luckily, another writer, Ilona Andrews, managed to find the words to express what I fear on her blog. She writes:
"There is a curious shift that occurs sometime around the publication of your first book. You stop being a person and become a representative of your books. For all intents and purposes, you are a business entity."
Suddenly, the whole person-to-person interaction changes. Now, for some readers, interaction with you becomes author-to-reader, a relationship with entirely different rules and expectations. Andrews shares a story about an interaction with a reader, who, having been offended by Andrews (over her simple objection to a facebook game), told her she shouldn't be so quick to anger the people who bought her books.
"Look at the wording here: ‘people who bought my books’. To her I am not a person. I am a collection of books and entertaining status updates. She is defining our relationship in terms of me as the content provider and her as the consumer. And consumer is always right. I am supposed to make her feel good, not point out her thoughtlessness. My mistake was attempting a person-to-person interaction, while she was clearly on reader-to-author basis. (Facebook, unfortunately, blurs this line a bit.) As a representative of a business entity, I am not allowed to have my feelings hurt or to be angry. From her point of view, in this relationship, she holds all the cards, because she purchases the product I provide."
A very, very interesting point. And not one I take lightly. I am, by nature, a person who craves intimacy and understanding. In most of my daily interactions with others, I am usually the one trying to form some sort of bond, however tenuous and immediate, just because that's where I'm happiest. So the idea of becoming something other than just a person, just me, scares me a little. It seems like a lot of pressure to be a representative of anything - even my own work - rather than just a person like anyone else.
I realize I am jumping the gun here in a spectacular way. The grand assumption that anyone will even bother to read my work, let alone seek me out on the Internet - yeah, I know it's a jump. But I am slightly neurotic and over-thinky. This is what I do.