At 3.22 this afternoon, I reached saturation point. I’d been busy on the web for hours, checking tweets and posts, following Facebook flows and LinkedIn chains, looking for inspiration and affirmation.
The morning hadn’t been wasted. I was delighted when someone tweeted that they were ‘becoming addicted’ to my writing ( – but be careful with that!) and I connected with Sara Sheridan, whose Guardian blog post today, ‘Why writers must embrace social media, no matter the genre‘, is recommended reading.
But suddenly it was all too much. Like being in a crowded room at a party, when all you want to do is get out and take a deep breath of fresh air. Who are all those smiling faces? And what am I doing here anyway?
I tracked back over the last 100 tweets. A quarter of them were from writers trying to sell me their book. Around 20 gave me news that didn’t really interest me. Most of the rest were either desperate to teach me something, letting me eavesdrop on gossip, or quoting something deep and meaningful.
Only one led me to a blog where I was truly entertained. Seth Godin again – you might have guessed.
Again the question. Why am I even here, blogging?
I guess the answer is that I’m selling too. Except the difference is I’m not going to headline “my AWESOME new book, just $0.99 at Amazon today“.
Instead, my aim is to put on a live performance. Not talking about writing, not trying to teach anyone to write, but just really writing. With proper stories, plot progression, characters you’ll love, hate, laugh at, feel sorry for. And if that gets you hungry for more, well then you’ll be able to get the book at the door at the end of the show.
It’s a two-way thing. Every artist needs an audience, and when it’s live like this, I can hear from your reactions whether I’m getting through to you or not.
And you know what? If I’m going to put on a good show, then I probably need to rest up more and spend more time in rehearsal. I’m not saying I shouldn’t talk to my friends and supporters – that’s an important part of the feedback – but maybe I shouldn’t spend so much of the day trawling for readers. If the show’s good enough, word will spread and people will arrive, I’m sure of that.
But wait. This has been a rant, not a performance. So let’s put that right. Here’s a 5000-word short story that I’ve just reposted on Smashwords: Waiting for Orders. It’s free, an irreverent satirical romp, short enough to be read in 20 minutes, and needs to be read in the voice of a young Jack Nicholson. Does it work for you? Cheers or hisses or silence?
And that brings me nicely to tomorrow’s topic – the importance of the short story, and why I’m going to be spending much more time reading (and sharing with you) other emerging writers I admire.
If you’ve never used Smashwords before, you’ll need to sign up first. Then refer to this guidance page to optimize your reading experience. Smashwords allows you to download in a number of different formats to suit your e-reader. I’m still using my PC and the quickest way is to use the HTML version offered. But I much prefer using Kindle for PC – a free download – all the details are on the guidance page.