There's a side to the writing life we don't talk about, although thousands of us labor at it daily. I'm speaking of publicity, promotion, the fascinating selves we show the world. It's nothing new. Hemingway understood the value of his suntan and his safaris. Fitzgerald and Zelda knew what they were doing when the frolicked in Parisian fountains. Today we frolic in public for much the same reasons, and with the same studied care. We just do it with keyboards and clicks.
Don't let me fool you; I'm not made of nobler stuff. I'm vain, frivolous and incurably silly, and I crave approval like a golden retriever. And while I write for many reasons--love, longing, pain, generosity, selfishness, frustration--one of these is certainly the wish to entertain. Having been entertained myself several times, I can say with certainty that it's a pleasant sensation.
I hope, furthermore, to become a figure of preposterous influence in world affairs, and such power cannot be seized but through fame. Invisibility is death. Facebook is forever. This is especially true for writers. We must put ourselves out there. We must share far more than our work. Let the form be moving confessional or monkey caper, so long as it floats our name before the many. We must dance, we must post. And I shall.
~ HOWEVER: ~
There are capers I won't perform, sins I won't commit for stardom. Here's my initial list.
Things I won't do to support my writing career:
2. Adulterate my writing. This includes such travesties as contests in which the prize is the winner's name inserted, like a goody in a box of breakfast cereal, somewhere in the text. Needless to say it also includes product placement of any kind--including, of course, Maggi soup.
3. Slander, stab, betray, poke or verbally puke on other writers. They are not "the competition." They're family. Of course sincere critique is another matter; I'm speaking here of unwarranted nastiness. I do, however, reserve the right to skewer anyone who goes out of his or her way to be a Frank Miller or a V.S. Naipaul (that is, a wanker or an asshole).
4. Write about anything I don't take genuine interest in, no matter how marketable.
4b. Attempt to repackage my writing to fit a current fad or hot subgenre.
4c. Inject popular motifs (ducks, zombies, iPads, etc.) where they don't naturally fit.
4. Ridicule the opinions of others.
5. Water down my own.
6. Praise work because it's popular, or because the writer is famous.
b. ...dismiss work for the same reasons.
7. Babble on (aloud or online) when I have nothing real to say, out of love for my own voice.
8. Think of my writing as product--or God forbid, content. This is the ultimate corruption.
I expect this list to grow--there are many sins to choose from, after all. Suggestions welcome.