Tuesday, September 22, 2009

We Interrupt this Blog to Indulge in a Little Meta-Analysis

I read a discussion online recently about how before signing a client, an agent will read his or her author blog. Naturally. For a writer, one major reason to blog is to create a body of work online for anyone to peruse, especially, should you be so lucky, a publishing professional. The point of the piece was that some agents say they won’t take on clients who write about certain things, including how hard writing is. (I can’t remember where I read this. My bad.)

About the same time, I read elsewhere that there are something like 18,000 writer blogs in blog-land. Most of them are pleasant and well-written. One commenter suggested that to stand out, one should create something a bit edgier. (Think that was here: Pimp My Novel)

These two topics are related to each other as well as to a question that applies to more than blogging: What representation of “me” do I want to present to the world? Nice or sharp-tongued? Smooth or edgy? Charming or honest? “Real” me or “Polished” me? You can’t be everything, at least not all of the time.

As for my thoughts on the first issue, I will say this: oh, please. Writing is hard. The life of a writer means facing tough odds, buckling down to lonely, self-directed work and getting your self-esteem cremated regularly. No, of course it’s not as hard as many other paths in life, like being a teenaged slave or dying of cancer. But it’s challenging enough that a little good-natured commiseration with other writers can really take the edge off. I understand that no agent would want to read a constant whine, but I can’t believe all agents want to represent Pollyanna, either. What is a story without a protagonist who faces challenge?

As for the second matter: Edgy or charming, polished or real—pick your poison. The important part is that you pick.

Voice is a basic question for writers: not just finding it, but owning it.
What do you want to project to the world? Are you going to craft a voice or simply be your voice? What voice is just enough out-of-the-box to be interesting but not so much so to become alienating? What is totally you, yet burdened only with consequences you can live with?

Once you figure that out and make it yours, stop worrying about what anyone will think and just jump in the damn water.

At least that’s what I keep telling myself.

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