What’s the hardest thing about writing? A lot of people I talk to say the actual writing is the most difficult part. They’re terrified of being confronted by a blank page, of creating the perfect first sentence, and then having the discipline to leave that sentence alone and move on to the next one. When I tell people I love writing, I get a lot of you must be a masochist comments (we’re using the most general definition here, folks, so don’t go too crazy on that one).
But I honestly love creating new stories. Learning about new characters. Coming up with backstory. The endless possibilities of an empty page. These are all reasons that I write.
No, in the world of writing, what really scares me, like, makes me slightly nauseous, worse-than-a-herd-of-tent caterpillars, is, SELF-PROMOTION!
I recently found out that two of my short stories were accepted to two different anthologies, and I was crazy excited. But then the realization hit – if I want people to read these stories, and the stories of my fellow anthologists, I have to
admit confess tell people about the book.
It may seem like a contradiction to a lot of you – after all, doesn’t a writer writes stories so others can read them? Yes, we do. But we don’t always want readers to know it’s US who wrote that particular story. There are several reasons for this. There’s the factor of privacy, especially when we have families or other careers. Or, we might write for different levels of readers, and may not want to scare our younger readers by introducing them to body decomposition too early in their childhood (should they stumble upon our other work). So some of us use ***spoiler alert*** a pen name, which can make promoting work, especially physically, quite difficult.
Then, there’s some authors who really have no interest in letting the world know them beyond their writing. When I asked the other authors from the Love is Love anthology about it, DJ Tyrer, author of Desert Roads, confessed he’s much more comfortable presenting himself in a way that’s removed from directly interacting with other people. He admitted that this probably stems from a general shyness about his writing, something that Crystal Reavis, author of the novel Areal and publicist at Breaking Rules Publishing, also relates to. She explained that while she has no issue helping other writers promote their work and loves to talk about writing in general, when it comes to her own work, she’s extremely shy.
Both Crystal and DJ are skilled and accomplished writers, and have absolutely no reason to be soft-spoken about their craft. So why are so many of us hesitant to promote our work? I think one of the main issues is we’ve become a society where we almost need to be apologetic about any success. We aren’t supposed to be openly proud of things we accomplish.
Alicia Graybill, author of Dragon Dances, shared her own struggles with this. Alicia told me that, while she knows her work is good and people will enjoy reading it, she has a hard time getting over the culturally ingrained notion that, “I need to be modest and humble.” Take That Chance author Tricia Ridinger McKee said she feels pushy when letting people know about her upcoming publications, and she’s even been told to ‘tone down’ her enthusiasm for her accomplishments. Both these women are talented story-tellers and have every right to be proud of what they’ve achieved. So again, why are we struggling so much with this whole self-promotion thing?
The answer may come from a writer’s obsession with words and our tendency to over-think a word’s meaning. According to the Oxford dictionary, self-promotion is “the action of promotion or publicizing oneself or one’s activities, especially in a forceful way. Wait – what? We don’t want to be forceful or in someone’s face. We just want them to check out our book. Maybe we just need a different word – let’s check out synonyms for self-promotion: boasting, bragging, self-flattery, self-glorification, bluster, showing off, vanity….the list does not improve. No wonder this is such a difficult thing for writers (or anyone) to wrap their mind around. There’s so much negativity around the meaning and idea of self-promotion.
So let’s ditch the whole idea of self-promotion and go with something that doesn’t have such a negative implication. We could create a new term for it, like sharatizing. Or maybe, adversharing. Of course, we’ll have to educate people on what those mean. So how about something that’s already out there, but that has a more positive meaning. Like, self-advocate.
Oxford defines self-advocacy as “the action of representing oneself or one’s views or interests.” Doesn’t that sound better? Brainline.org goes even further and states: “Self-advocacy is understanding your strengths and weaknesses, developing personal goals, being assertive (meaning standing up for yourself), and making decisions.” I don’t know about everyone else, but I don’t mind representing myself and sharing my views and interests with other people. I also have no problem standing up for myself and for things I believe in. So yeah, I think I could extend my self-advocating to my writing much easier than self-promoting it. Let’s give it a shot…
My name is (sometimes) Francis Currier, I’m an author, and I’m advocating for our book, Love is Love, published by Breaking Rules Publishing. This is the first book I’ve ever taken part in and I’m very proud of what we accomplished! Please check it out at https://www.breakingrulespublishing.com/store/p181/Love_Is_Love_Anthology_-_Feb_2020_Issue.html and support the amazing authors who contributed to the anthology, and the wonderful publishing house that believes in us!
So for all you writers, artists, and whoever you are out there who are trying to let people know about what you do or create, the next time someone accuses you of showing off or boasting about your work, tell them you’re self-advocating. And for those of you who still think we’re just bragging – bugger off.