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The paradox every author faces

standard February 19, 2014 4 responses

At my monthly book club meeting the other day, one of my friends turned to the group and gushed that she’d read Aloha Also Means Goodbye and that she couldn’t wait to discuss it with the group.

At a friend’s birthday party last week, one friend turned to another and raved about the book, telling her that she absolutely had to put it on her list of books to read.

Both of these encounters should have filled me with pride; instead they made me want to crawl into a hole and hide.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I am insanely proud that I’ve published a book that is receiving so much positive attention. I love that my friends are loving it. I love that complete strangers are loving it too. I just seem to have trouble talking about it with people.

It feels a little like this.

Imagine that you’ve spent a long time pouring your most intimate fears, hopes, desires, thoughts into a diary. Now your friends are passing around this diary of yours and are stopping you in the street to discuss it with you.

It might make you feel incredibly naked and vulnerable.You’d probably want to vanish too, right?

Now, to be fair, Aloha Also Means Goodbye is a work of pure fiction. Every character and experience is wholy made up. I did not draw from my personal experience in any way shape or form. And yet, I spent four years writing this book. Four years slipping myself into the skin of all these characters, feeling their pain, their struggles, their hopes. They might be a work of fiction to everyone, but they feel like parts of me.

Discussing them feels like I’m violating their privacy.

I know. It’s twisted. Especially when I think about how much of a thrill it is to read a positive review, to hear that a reader has fallen in love with these people I created, to discover that they too have become close to them. But face to face? I just can’t handle it.

Funny that someone who writes a personal blog might feel this way, eh? (Trust me, it’s just as weird when someone wants to discuss a blog post I wrote.)

Now that challenge here is that in order to sell books I have to talk about it. I have to tell people about it. I have to bring it up on a regular basis. I have to ask if they’ve read it, if they’ve told their friends about it. And I can’t just assume that people will remember without being constantly reminded.

I know why so many painters become famous after they die. I really truly get it. Who wants to be the person always parading their most intimate self in front of others for attention?

I am a blogger. Have been for a long time. You’d think that self promotion would be second nature by now. And yet it so isn’t. I’m a million times more likely to tell you about my friends who have written books, other bloggers who have written great posts, other women who are doing amazing things, than to toot my own horn.

This self promotion thing doesn’t come easily to me. It makes me want to find a hole to crawl into where I could perhaps, spin a new tale, invent some new characters, until I remember that I’ll have to sell that book too, I’ll have to share it with the world, I’ll have to let them see this new vulnerable side of me… and then I freeze and the words just don’t come.

It’s quite the paradox. One that has me scratching my head and wondering if maybe I really would be better suited to a career as a carefree barista.

Have you read it? Have you told your friends to read it?

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4 responses

  • Interesting paradox. As a writer and blogger myself, I can’t say that I share your reticence in talking about your writing. At first I thought maybe the difference is that my first book was noon-fiction, but when you shared your discomfort with talking about you blog pieces, I realized it was a big difference between us. I love feedback on my blog pieces: the comments on the blog, on Facebook and in person!

  • I love comments on my blog….but I might be more reticent if I was discussing it face to face.

  • I think I can relate it to the way I feel when someone discusses my blog IRL with me. It’s so odd!

  • Funnily, I can talk about my blog until the cows come home, but I have exactly the same reserve as you when it comes to my fiction writing. Somehow, with the blog being based in reality (it’s about writing and self-promotion), I don’t have the fear of people saying/thinking: “Oh, you made that up yourself? But it’s rubbish.”

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