Social media, a pernicious falsehood designed to sell things, has shifted the regard for the arts and artists. We live in a strange time when artists have to feel friendly and familiar to a consuming public. I didn't read Harlan Ellison growing up because I thought on some spooky plane that he and I could be buds; did it because his words were saying something, and I respected that. But more and more frequently authors have to "engage" readers. Goodreads, Twitter, and host more -- something about them feels wrong and false. Reading becomes "personality reading," like watching Tom Cruise in a movie.
Me, I don't necessarily need or want to see the person behind the curtain. I fritter on Facebook but that's mostly to keep from poking cats, not to tie "me" to my books. My books are out there on the ocean trying their damndest to swim; they don't need me weighing them down. I'll putt-putt by every now and then to shout "Stroke! Stroke!" at them between sips of lemonade under my umbrella on my dinghy, but, seriously, if I thought "presence" equaled book sales I'd be "friending" the unborn (Fetal Book?) Even this website, is it going to convince droves of readers to click purchase links?
Ultimately it's the words. If the words do right, they'll swim a bit. Granted it's a huge ocean, but I think of readers as kin to hammerhead sharks, ceaselessly searching and ever vigilant for something that stirs their blood. The meaty bits inside, not the outer wrapping. Ultimately I've got to say something in my books/blog/writing that says something an amorphous "you" need to hear. Something more than "Stroke! Stroke!"
Life, the universe, and everything creative
Towel Photo credit: EvelynGiggles via Foter.com / CC BY