Friday, August 3, 2012

a response to Nathan Bransford's post on gatekeepers vs. influencers

On Nathan Bransford's blog this Wednesday, he wrote about the move from a world of gatekeepers to influencers. Here's the bulk of my response:
as someone who's published 15 books with major publishing houses, i  think you're right, and it makes me feel a new kind of weariness. it's democratic, yes. and i love the democratization that technology affords. but i see my relationship with the page -- the thing i care about most deeply -- being diverted not by a handful, but by masses i feel pressured to engage.

i love readers -- probably too much. i think of them far more often than they think of me; the relationship will never be equal. but the push to interact and spend more time with them than my characters (not to mention my own family) is hard. i got into writing as a solitary act because i needed that solitude to make sense of the world -- which is both beautiful and brutal. i didn't go into sales and yet my job -- if i allow it -- becomes one of overwhelming salesmanship. my grandfather sold vacuums, door to door. i relate to him now in a way i never thought i ever would -- snowy stoops of West Virginia, trudging up moutain roads... it's different. it's the same.

i was never good at rubbing elbows with gatekeepers. and i never got the feeling that they wanted me to. they wanted to see my words on the page -- liked them or didn't. do the influencers really want my elbow rubbing? the idea of trying to influence influencers makes me feel a small death in my chest.

here's what i can do. hole up. write. devote myself to the page and hope that my characters burrow into a few hearts -- influencial hearts or not.