It probably wouldn’t be honest for me to say that I’ve never liked talking about myself. Yes, these days making a public show is an uncomfortable act, although I can think of plenty of examples that prove how I have, from time to time, been guilty of rambling on.
But when it comes to my work, that’s another story.
Back in the early 2000s, before I first noticed the New Media bandwagon rolling by on its way to The Revolution That Ended and jumped on, back when I was seriously into writing science fiction and feeling optimistic, the sci-fi writers I met told me I really ought to get out there and promote my work.
Which I tried to do. I was all about the networking. Bought new clothes. Worked it. Later on, after putting my fiction on hold while devoting myself to solving journalism problems in the digital age, I dabbled in self-promotion because I wanted to create some opportunities to develop these ideas I had.
And here’s the thing: Not only did it make me miserable, I also really kinda sucked at it.
So now, here I am again, standing at another crossroads, wrestling with the realization that — for some of you, anyway — I’m becoming “That Guy.” That Guy Who Self-Promotes On Social Media. Because I’m like you. I hate That Guy.
And what I’m asking for is your understanding, if not your outright forgiveness. Because what I have to admit is, I’m a guy who writes stuff. And while I’ve worn a bunch of other hats, those were just costumes. And as much as I’ve enjoyed writing about other people and exploring ideas in essays, there’s always something arm’s length about that work. What I love doing — what I’ve always loved doing — is writing novels. And that, my friends, is an embarrassing thing to come out and say in public.
Because the first reasonable question is: “So what?” And the second question is: “Who are you and what makes you so special?”
Well, nothing. And everything.
I’m kinda this hippie-kid version of John Boy Walton, only instead of writing sappy memoirs about growing up in the Great Depression, I left the commune and went off to work for newspapers. Had kind of a good thing going, too — for a while there, anyway, until I started publicly entertaining some fairly unpopular ideas about journalism and wound up on the wrong side of the desk. And while I’ve written four books, so far I haven’t had much in the way of success when it comes to getting people in the publishing business to even look at them.
Add it all up and it comes to “loser.” I know that.
And yes, I know that the graceful thing would be to lay this thing down gently to die.
Only I’m not about to do that. Yes, I recognize that dreaming big in public is a sure-fire way to look like an idiot, but then again, fuck it. I’m 50 years old. I’ve probably got less than 20 years left of being able to skate by on my boyish good looks. And if I’m ever going to break out of this box of shame and failure that our corporate media overlords have prepared for me, I’m not going to get there by asking permission and waiting for the Great Marketing Department In The Sky to come down and do the work for me.
The only way I get out of this with my soul intact is to quit dicking around and do it myself. Yes, the writing — that’s the easy part. But also the editing, and the covers, and the publishing. And then the blogging and the corresponding and the social media, the promotions. That’s the hard part. That’s the work.
So when you see yet another goddamn status update about my books on Facebook, please understand. It’s not a whim. It’s not some pathetic desire for attention. It’s me, that guy you know, fighting in public for the work I’ve always done before in private.
If all this talk about books bores or offends you, please forgive me, and please skim over it. Alternately, if this project takes off and does well — that most improbable of outcomes — then later we’ll all remember how you were there at the beginning. And if it all collapses in ridicule, like some great, ambitious rocket that fails to ignite, then at least you’ll know that I picked my ditch and went down fighting.
So it’s not that I don’t value y’all. It’s that you’re all I’ve got left.