I have now posted three short stories to my Wattpad site, and the response has been—how shall I put it?—underwhelming. This is mostly my own fault. I only just figured out that it might be helpful to my would-be readers to provide a teaser/summary of each story so that they weren’t simply presented with a title and a blank page. My other problem is that I’m just not willing to badger my friends on Facebook, or set up a Twitter account, or otherwise compel them to join Wattpad to see my work.
Here we have, in essence, the dilemma of the modern-day writer. For all my experience with publishing and, indeed, publicity for other authors—whose work I can trumpet until even they beg me to shut up—I find it monumentally difficult to do the same with my own work. At one level, this modesty may be becoming. At another level, it’s not only self-defeating but even arrogant—as if one imagines that one’s work should transcend the filthy business of telling those one hopes should care the most that you have, in fact, produced something they might be interested in.
Yet I have very real concerns about the way every aspect of our lives is now mediated through screens, and how so many of the sites that we depend on to communicate with one another not only want access to our personal data but to those of our friends and associates. If you want to comment, or “like,” or in some way register your approval, you’re obliged to sign up and display your life on yet another platform. The three-dimensional book is such a user-driven object—”pick me up or leave me be,” it says. The blog and other e-scripts, however, insist on being thrust into the inboxes and news feeds of others—without those others asking. Sure, they can be ignored as completely as a book is on a shelf (assuming it’s lucky enough even to get there). But they’re noisier and more obstreperous, and thus more annoying.
At some point, gentle reader, I’m going to have to face up to my own reticence and let folks know that, yes, I’m a writer as well as a publisher and a runner, and that that first part of me is as important (and, I might hope, as accomplished—or at least as disciplined) as is the runner and publisher. Until then, however, you may want to pop over to Wattpad and take a look. . . .