This tweet flew across my feed earlier today:
Poor Linda is struggling with crafts, while I’m worrying over contract issues. Judging by the blogs, internet articles, and comments on social media, these aren’t the only concerns on writers’ minds. What happened to the days when all we had to do was write, and write well? When did becoming a writer turn into becoming a marketing expert, attorney, public relations specialists, graphic artist, and a manufacturer of promotional materials?
Ernest Hemingway is one of my literary heroes. I toured his home at least three dozen times as child. I (briefly) owned a descendant of his cat, a wonderfully fat polydactyl tom. I admired his pool, and the last penny he embedded in the tile as a jab at his wife. I shivered at the sight of his wine locks, amazed that a man so famous could have to be so careful.
In all those tours I never saw the spot where he made bookmarks. I remember his office with tall windows letting in sunlight, animal heads glaring down, and an antique typewriter, but not a single filling cabinet of promotional materials. None of the bookmarks Linda is struggling with or the pens, pencils, notepads and other ‘giveaways’ I hear about at writing conferences.
Two years back I heard a well published author speak about her giveaways: post it notepads. She went on about giving them to people in the line at the grocery store, to her friends, leaving them in libraries. A good author, she proclaimed, is always marketing. What about writing? Shouldn’t it come first, last, and in the middle too?
When it comes to balancing the business part of writing with the creative part I don’t have a good answer. I’m not sure if we should be promoting with 10% of our author time, or 50%. Every minute I spend not writing seems like ten minutes I’ve actually lost. For me, for now, I’d much rather worry about plot points and characters than bookmarks and sub-clauses.
(Thanks to Linda for being such a good sport about her troubles with craft paper and scissors. You can learn more about her writing, and how much better it is than her crafting, on her webpage: http://www.lindapoitevin.com/)