Saturday 28 September 2013

Self-promotion, the ego and the creative

A while back, I listened to author Edna O’Brien on the radio, talking about the intense concentration needed to write, especially memoir, and how social media dilutes our focus and is so egotistical.

I agree about writing.  I agree that social media can be used as a tool for the ego. And I agree that it can definitely dilute our focus as writers. 

However, this got me thinking about writers promoting themselves.  When you are pursuing the indie route,  unless you pay someone else to do it for you, you have to promote yourself.  How is that different to a publisher doing your marketing and PR?  And if a third party is doing it on your behalf, they are still telling the world how great you are. So is it okay for someone else to big you up, but not okay for you to express this?  Perhaps it’s a symptom of our weird British modesty - a fear of blowing our own trumpet?  That it is somehow wrong to believe you are good, let alone voice that self-confidence? 

An indie writer is a business.  You have to promote a business to survive and no-one seems to object to this but again when it comes to a creative, somehow different standards apply.  How else are we supposed to do it?  Are we supposed to starve in garrets while we sit back and wait to be recognised and lifted from obscurity to the realms of fame?  The internet has provided us with unparalleled opportunities to bypass this old hierarchical system.   It doesn’t mean it’s easy (it’s very tough indeed!) but it does mean we don’t have to wait for approval; we can put ourselves and our work “out there” and wait for the recipients, be they readers, listeners, etc. to respond directly without the barrier of a gatekeeper. 

So why do we drown in pools of false modesty?  Maybe secretly we don’t really think we are worth it (sorry, L’Oreal).  Maybe, deep down, we just want to be “rescued” by a publisher in shining armour…….

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