I figure I’m the worst candidate in the world to start a blog. I like to keep opinions to myself, preferring to commune with the trees while, say, walking my two dogs in a forest near my home. I don’t like sharing photos, or standing on a soap box. Until recently my incoming Facebook invites went straight into the spam folder, and one of those invites was from my wife. Even she says I don’t reveal enough of myself to her.
Then, alas, my first novel was acquired this year by a small publisher. Sure, I was ecstatic about it. I’m getting published! But I was also filled with dread. Most of the promotion is in my hands. Suddenly, I’m muttering words like Twitter, “friending” and emoticon to friends and colleagues. The Emily Dickinson in me has been oddly promoted to publicity manager, and I’m loathe to “ego surf” the Web for mentions of myself. After years of writing in isolation, I’ve perfected the art of hermitude. How can I be expected to go public? But, in fact, that’s just what I’m about to do.
Just last month, for instance, I invited nearly my entire gmail contact list, 500 or so addresses, to check out my new Facebook author page. This simple act of building audience was, for me, excruciating. I didn’t recognize half the names of my contacts. So many were friends I’ve lost touch with, work colleagues who drifted, family members I should call more often. These folks came from parts of my life I’d safely closeted in dank, dusty attics. Just perusing all those old contacts got me depressed: dozens were literary agents and publishers who’d rejected the very novel I was aiming to publicize.
After eliminating thirty or so contacts — including Saratoga Honda, 1-800-Pet Meds, three-year-old confirmations for Amazon purchases and, yes, several dead people — I pressed the button. Within hours, I received dozens of “likes.” A fellow dog walker I see in the forest commented that my Facebook photo looked “professorial.” A former co-worker urged me to “Tweet” her. This outpouring felt strange. Sure, my new Facebook fans thought it was “cool” I was getting published. But what if they knew how uncool I in fact felt? Would they still want to “friend" me?
I even heard from a few literary agents wishing me well with my new novel. I admit to a guilty pleasure in this. Despite the literally hundreds of rejections my novel amassed over the years, from agents and publishers, I’m now actually getting published. So there! I heard myself vengefully exclaim. That’s what you people get for rejecting me – and now you’ve missed your chance to ride my coattails to fame, if not fortune!
Problem is, now that I have the world’s attention, I need to update my Facebook page. I need to Tweet something. I need to engage a core group with my writing, my thoughts. It’s one thing to tap the microphone and make everyone face forward, but you have to actually say something too.
But what to blog? That is the question. Hey! I have an idea! Why not talk about an issue truly close to my heart: How I don’t like to talk about what’s close to my heart.
So here I am on a soapbox. Please excuse me if I sound self-involved, self-promotional or – worse — boring. The novel comes out early next year. So just hold your nose until then. I totally understand where you’re coming from.