Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Would Dickens have Tweeted?

Do you tweet? It's conventional wisdom that authors must be tireless self-promoters and get on all the social networks to establish a "platform" from which they can presumably relentlessly plug their wares to the world at large. But is it a good thing to put ourselves Out There for all and sundry to scrutinise?

I know some writers who are terminally shy and hate all that self-promotion razzmatazz. I'm a bit like that myself. Like most Scots I suffer from the Tall Poppy Syndrome - we're trained from an early age to keep the head down lest it be chopped off. So boasting and shouting about how great we are doesn't come naturally.

The trouble is of course, it comes all too naturally to some, sometimes to an obnoxious degree. Be honest, how many writers have turned you off their work by their tiresome self-importance? With Twitter and Facebook there's no mystique to the author any more. Their every bowel movement of an opinion is there for all to see, and if you don't happen to agree with their rabid political outpourings you might just feel a little alienated.

So isn't the whole exercise self-defeating? Time was when we knew nothing about the authors we read, unless some doughty reporter managed to get a scoop of an interview in one of the Sunday supplements. We could fondly imagine them as anything which suited us. Non-threatening, friendly, arty: mysterious. We didn't know where they had their legs waxed and we didn't want to know. Maybe some more of that mystery would suit us better today?


SciReg said...

Ohhh it is a great post! I really like it! (smile)

Angela said...

Twitter, facebook etc. are modern-day chatrooms. They're a procrastination device, pure and simple. And yes, I'd be interested to meet a really great writer who's a genuine extrovert. I suspect they're rather thin on the ground.

patti said...

I'm not so much tired of all the tweeting and blogging as I'm tired of being told that writers HAVE to tweet and blog. Not everyone wants to commodify themselves and their work, and nobody HAS to. Writing books and selling books are two different things.

But you didn't answer the question. Would Dickens have tweeted? I say yes.

Sandra Patterson said...

Yes, I agree Patti. I think he definitely would have, being the brilliant self publicist he was.