Here I am, writing. In another Notepad window, I’m writing about writing. And in that Notepad window, the subject matter—the writing I’m writing about—is about writing about things other than writing. I swear, it really does make sense. Hopefully, it’ll turn into an article for writers who blog about point of view and royalties, but never themselves. I think that’s a mistake.
I’ve mentioned before that Heather and I have both written online for many years before we started this site, and I know that some of our commenters have done that too. Years of experience talking between us. Anyone who does this for more than a few months before quitting, especially anyone who gains a following, has a sense for what engages readers and what doesn’t. What keeps people coming back, what makes them delurk and comment.
Those of us who have written online during the particular span I’m talking about—speaking of the early 2000s into now—have experienced a massive change regarding online identity and privacy. Screennames were more than just the word we hid behind; they became who we were to the people who read us. Now we show our faces, tell our names. At one time, that was actually against the rules.
So I’m thinking thoughts about how much we share. How much we keep behind. How thrilled I am when I see a picture of Heather’s little girl, and wondering if a day will come when she asks Heather not to do post them anymore. (Hannah, I’m asking you now not to let that happen. Please.) I’m thinking about how I feel about public figures who use social media for good (Neil Gaiman) and… ill (Charlie Sheen). I’m thinking about Roxanne’s wise post about choosing what she shares about the politically charged situations around her, even though I’d bet that there are stories that are begging to be told there every day. I’m thinking about how much the quality of writing affects the impact of communication.
I can make an article about this. Whether it says everything I want it to is still TBD.
I’m interested in hearing anything you have to say about this. What you share online and general containers of what you keep behind. (For me, I try not to tell what I’d call “other people’s stories.”) I’m interested in public figures that you think do an amazing job with their online presence. I’m interested in what would make you come back to a writer’s website to read in between book releases. (Elizabeth Berg writes an occasionally updated blog that I find interesting. She keeps her comments turned off, so she’s not doing what I’d call engaging with readers, but I still like it.) I’m interested in knowing if you’ve Facebook-liked an author or friended them on Goodreads. (I don’t use Facebook at all, and since I barely update my Goodreads page anymore, I think it’s a little creepy when I get an email saying an author wants to friend me there!) I know it’s a huge topic, but I think almost everyone has an opinion on one corner of it or another. Seriously, I would love to know.