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Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Writer and Facebook

The novelist Curtis Sittenfeld says she finally joined Facebook because she felt she was under a rock. She is a successful author to the point she did not have to dance with Facebook until now. The rest of us had to dance early and keep dancing. It is not that as a novelist you dislike Facebook or that you don't want to go on there, it is just necessary to keep yourself out there and Facebook along with Twitter and other social media is part of the novelists job now.

I write essays. That is how I interact as my readers know. Some people complain I do not go on Facebook and get personal. The truth is I find that strange and I'm not comfortable with the form and I do believe I can provide a greater service by doing what I do best and that is writing on literature, politics, and culture. And here is the real reason I do it: I enjoy writing on these subjects. If Facebook is  only a chore then you will not stay with it.

The novelist is a little different. The ogre on the back demands you sell books. So one does feel a bit like a huckster, but that is why the writer must make his or her separate peace with all social media. You can only do what you are comfortable doing. No amount of hubris will make up for feeling  awkward or embarrassed by posting personal things about yourself.  This poses a dilemma for writers who are shy retreating creatures usually.

The novelist in particular should have the thick ankles to endure the rigors of social networking. There are times you feel a bit used up and you fantasize about those million selling authors who sit up on the mountain in their splendid isolation. But they are the few nowadays. Even Hemingway had to make sure he kept his name in the media with safaris, wars, and good old catastrophes. We really just have to get on a computer and think and post.  Not so bad when you think about it.

Books by William Hazelgrove