Wednesday, August 5, 2009

For Tweetsake, I am in a new media writers' funk

The Crone Draws Hieroglyphics in the Sand
By Nordette N. Adams

With pen sheathed and body aged--
grotesque or glorious--clicking hard packed earth
with her stick, she walks mountains to valleys
in a scarlet cloak of words.

She has a cave,
but the masses, with thumbs, bar her entrance.
"Speak, speak to our screens!" they clamor,
"Tweet, post, love our avatar faces in a book."

She has a cave.
Like Dickinson, like Octavia Butler, she
wants to sit and look
into the caverns of her skittish soul.

What authentic word comes from noise?
This twittering quest for popularity smothers the ancient howl,
whips backs to search for lost tribes.
We hunger for followers like oily messiahs.

Our unwritten busyness--
blank scroll of book dreams, antiquated quills
fluffy with dust--keeps
keyboards clicked with prattle.

Soliloquy is dead.
Long live soliloquy.

(c) Copyright 2009 Nordette N. Adams

I was already writing this poem when I heard Mr. Media's interview with Jane Friedman of Writer's Digest books in which they discuss how the publishing industry is changing. It's a topic with which I struggle, and so perhaps what you hear from me are the sobs of someone who may have waited too long to get down to her book; therefore, she rails at the new world order, fearing her fear will consume her.

I'm developing a theme, a "Help, I'm a Writing Dinosaur" theme or a "Days of Whine and Woeses for Writers" kind of thing.Get the picture. I have these and other episodes of pouting, er, I mean ... creative introspection, under the writing label.

According to Christina Katz's book Get Known Before the Book Deal, I'm clearly a whiner. Damn it all! I just want to write in my old age, not chase people down online and sell myself to them. I want to be an enigma who academics applaud politely. If not that, then at least I should be a writer of modestly selling pulp fiction, loved by a cultish few who keep enough money in my pocket to pay my health insurance. But a book marketer? Noooooooooo. How can I market a book that I can't finish because I'm building a platform to market a book?

I've heard of another book, Chapter After Chapter, by Heather Sellers, which has one chapter called "Once Upon a Whine." Apparently Ms. Sellers has cameras planted in my home and has been spying on writers like me.

But the poem up top is not so much whining as it is me seriously thinking about how this new era of World Wide Web business that supposedly makes a writer a life may be harming the art of writing itself. Writers used to go to mountaintops and think for a while about who they are and who you are and what the whole world is. Today if you did that your blog would disapppear from Google and no one on Twitter would know your screenname. And then, where would you be, you writer, you?


Molly Swoboda said...

Hallelujah! I suggest we take up beating them all back with our canes. /Signed/ Molly Swoboda ~ A Sister Slightly Beyond Midlife :)

Jane Friedman said...

I definitely sympathize with writers who want to focus on the art & craft -- just write.

The writing often does come first (at least for creative writers). If you don't know who you are, what you want to say, what your strengths/weaknesses are, and what your goals are, then it's impossible to even think about how you will market/promote.

It takes in fact a writer who is very self-knowledgeable to be able to do anything effective online (or offline) when it comes to marketing/promotion.

For anyone begrudgingly facing the need to market/promote, remember that the first steps aren't about chasing or selling -- not in the least.

Rather it's being an authentic part of communities who share the same values that you do, and who want more of who you are and what you offer.

This only comes over time, though. It doesn't happen overnight.

I imagine most writers want to find like-minded people (audiences/colleagues) with whom they can build meaningful relationships; then marketing/promotion starts to make a lot more sense -- and it becomes an extension of who you are and what you write.

And I'd say this blog certainly qualifies as that -- an excellent extension.