“The Public Figures”

Not all authors are the same, of course. Our outlooks on authoring vary considerably. Recently, for example, an author I follow on Instagram had been posting photo after photo after video after video of smiling group selfies and other assorted “networking” content alongside other authors at April’s London Book Fair

She could also seemingly not stop captioning about how she loves “supporting” other authors and oozing over making “connections.” It was not the first time for that sort of thing either. She has done this before regarding that yearly gathering (in previous years) and similar “get togethers.”

After days of that (and seemingly a dozen or so posts), I could take no more of it and muted her.

As the old joke goes, I was sure the deluge of sugary sweet was going to cause me to start to develop cavities. I will un-mute her at some point. However, as I “silenced” her posting barrage, I also asked myself: What bugged me so much about all of that in my timeline?

Saturday, we did that above. A multiple-photo single post like that from that author would not have bothered me as a follower; and I might even have enjoyed it. I certainly would not have minded a few pics (in a group of 9 in a post or two as above) and maybe a couple about “support” and “connecting”, etc, and so on.

I don’t mean to sound harsh. I post on Instagram only every few days, much like here, because whatever the social media platform a poster has to decide what to prioritize in order to aim NOT to clutter followers’ timelines with trivia that is of likely no interest to most of them. (Annoying people is a sure way to lose followers.) Her parade of pics was much better suited for ephemeral Instagram “stories” that would have been visible for only 24 hours and seen by those actually deeply interested.

“Supporting” other authors is something that she also posts of regularly; and I get what that may imply – I hope I am “supportive” of other authors I have gotten to know well. (Meaning I have read their books and like them.) Similarly, we all enjoy making new “connections”; yet repeated tiresome references to such, leads it to come across as insincere and hollow. It is necessary to ask yourself: Do I sound like a phony?

[Photo by Ryanniel Masucol on Pexels.com.]

Don’t get me wrong, I do like people – including, believe it or not, some other authors. LOL! It is just that as a former academic, I have had more than my fill of “conferencing.” The last thing I am interested in now is chit-chatting with people I will probably have nothing to do with again and have to sit through panels conducted by those who love the sound of their own voice, much less wade through Instagram timelines filled with that stuff.

One of the noteworthy “conflicts” in authoring is how some authors are excessively outgoing (my – now late – uncle was ALWAYS eager to talk with anyone at least for a few minutes… until maybe he decided they were boring and/or would not serve as a basis for a character) in the manner of “extroverts” drawing energy from interactions; others, though, are not, and while certainly not an “introvert” myself, I suppose I am one of those latter.

And I have always disliked having to make small talk – which, I suspect lots of other people do, too. Yes, yes, maybe there is a chance a “connection” will lead somewhere. However, the odds are decidedly against it and we all have to decide how to best spend our time as well as our money.

[My writing desk, Potton, England, February 21, 2020. Photo by me.]

Also, at author in-person gatherings I would honestly have to at some point(s) use my real name, which I do not wish to do. I write under a pen name, am on the net as an author using only that name, and desire to keep my real-life identity separate from my authoring one. So I am entirely uninterested in elbow-rubbing in order to make a name for myself.

I desire interest only in my books. I reach many more potential readers over the net than I ever could milling around within a herd of other authors. And importantly over the net I also maintain my real-life privacy.

I am on here because of those books and those readers and have been for nearly a decade now. In fact, far more potentially genuinely interested readers will have probably within 24 hours seen just this post than I would likely have reached at any in-person writers’ gathering anyway. My books being for my readers are what writing is ultimately, to me, all about…

[A “1791” scene in Conventions: The Garden At Paris. From Kindle for iPhone/iPad. Click to expand.]

Indeed, “she,” and all of “them,” are of great importance. “They” are “the public figures.” I am not one.

Have a good day, wherever you are. 🙂

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