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Positivity

A short little rant...

I spent last week at a summer school for writing, and found it an uplifting experience in pretty much every way. But one of the ways it was most uplifting was that it wasn't about how well anyone was doing, or what people had published, where. That was all mentioned, of course, but it had no impact on the value of the person at the school - they were a writer, I was a writer, and that was enough.

But, more than that - there was no one-up-manship. No touting of sales. No declaring where we had been listed or reviewed, or how many downloads we'd had.

It was utterly refreshing - and I didn't realise how much until I came back to the real world and got hit, straight away, by the competitiveness of the writing world (especially on facebook and twitter - I find forums less so.)

Now, I am very much the pot and everyone else is the kettle here. I have done all this, and worse. But I'm changing things.

My new 10 commandments of being a writer on social media are:

1. No sharing of my book reviews unless they move me, make me smile, or are interesting in their own right. (Because I do love reading funny and interesting reviews.)

2. No talking about sales, where I am on the charts, how many people have read my book. Nothing. Niente. It's not even interesting to me, let alone anyone else. It puts the value of my writing into pounds and pence and doesn't touch on the intrinsic value that can't be touched. It is soul destroying and hateful. (But I reserve the right to go awesomely excited if I hit number one - see number 7.)

3. All promos are to be fun. Interviews, panels, twitter chats, whatever - they're a fab opportunity, one that I want to enjoy. Sure, some questions are serious and require a serious answer, but others are fun. I'm going to grab those moments.

4. For every post about my writing or books I'm going to share four others that I think will make people smile. This may include Teh Cute, Teh Funny or Teh laugh-out-loud. Sexy space pilots and alien memes are not ruled out. Dogs doing funny things are a must.

5. More time on forums, less on SM. I can interact better there. I can offer more support to other writers there. I can give more back on forums.

6. More about my life, less about the books. Honestly. Sometimes it must seem like I do nothing other than write.

Um.

Yes, moving on swiftly. :)

7. Celebrating achievements! This is what I want to hear from my writer friends. If you have an award, let me know! If you have a new book out, I want to cheer you along! I want to drool at your new cover (and, believe me, when you see my newest cover, you will all drool along with me). I want to hear your achievements, not just your sales. Sure, sometimes the two will align - but I'd also like to hear the small things that get you going. The beta reader who told you a scene made them cry. The last edit going in and the feeling of being free for the hour before the next story comes knocking.

8. Support. I think I'm pretty good at this one, anyway If there's a bad day happening, that's what a community is for. Consider virtual cake available for all.

9. Pieces of writing that move me. I'm going to post more about books I've loved. (I have two links going up straight after this.) I'm going to talk more about others' writing, instead of my own.

10. Happiness. More Chuck Tingle links because they make me smile -- sorry, non-sf mates, that means nothing to you.

My rant endeth. Let's make things positive and carry forward the knowledge that we're here to support each other, not knock each other down. Let's see that being the big person in the room only makes someone else feel smaller. Let's also see that hope is a great thing, and it's good to share when things go well and lift the curtain of futility that being a writer can be. But, mostly - let's just enjoy being what we hoped to be. Even if we have a day-job and want out of it. Even if the book has gone and got stuck and you want to chuck it through the wall. Let's build each other up, and keep each other up. :)


Comments

Dianna Zaragoza said…
Beautiful job, and those are some good guidelines to live by.
Anya Kimlin said…
Nice - I agree with all except occasionally it'd be lovely to hear how you're doing. I find that inspirational and hopeful. And you're allowed to get excited about it because you're doing well.
Trish Bennett said…
Well said, well said.
Hope it wasn't me pee'd you off though!
It's my first blog post, go easy on me.
Let the good times roll!
Peter Johnstone said…
I'm slightly surprised. I generally find the writers I follow supportive rather than competitive. Perhaps I'm following the right people.
However, good rules. I will be going on endlessly in the next week or so about the launch of book 3, partly because it's over year since I wrote the thing, but mostly be cause it's the end of a trilogy and I can get some closure. I've done nothing but think about these (imaginary) people for four years.
Joanne Zebedee said…
I can't give individual replies (such are the mystery of blogger) so here goes:

Dianna, many thanks. I'll see how I get on with them. :)

Anya - I think number 7 is the default. It's okay if it's positive and sharing and uplifting for all - it's no good if it's a look-at-me-aren't-I-the-most-astonishing-thing ever seen. I think it's about the tone. so, for sure, I'll still be sharing what works, what makes me feel good - just I'll be trying to share more of it from others, as well. (In fact, fancy a guest blog on what you're doing with Mayhem - that's exactly the sort of thing I think we should be celebrating!)

Ha, Trish. All your fault, of course. ;) (joking, I'm joking!) No one peed me off - but I saw a contrast that got me down.

Peter - most of the writers I follow are really supportive and good friends. I actually blame the market, not the writers - it forces into the shout-ourselves-up position because it's so cut-throat. When book 3 of Abendau comes out I will be shouting about it and cheering at achieving finishing a trilogy (and weeping about how much I'll miss everyone in it). It's not about not shouting out our successes (see #7) - perhaps it's more about realising success means different things for different people and giving less emphasis to the ones that can make others feel bad. I cheer people as much for completing a short story as a book - because achievements and their meanings vary. If that makes any sense. It might not. (Good luck with the launch!)
stevenpoore said…
I love cheering on & RTing other people - that's all part of the fun for me. I do find I have less time for forums these days, mostly because I have to find the time from somewhere to actually write and do all the other stuff that you can't necessarily see happening. As I said elsewhere though, this isn't a zero-sum game. You don't win by beating other people. You win, I think, by helping other people. :)
Anya Kimlin said…
Anything is welcome at this stage, Jo. I've got to get the hang of guest blogs. :)

Anonymous said…
Those are some good ideas. I will try to follow them.
Joanne Zebedee said…
Go for it, Anya. C 1000-15000 words (I think the experience of publishing free online would be really interesting, but it's up to you.) However, I insist on Soc being mentioned. :)