Here I still sit, straddling the fence between two worlds.
Social media mavens are usually high achieving business people who love marketing, technology and the fast lane of constant connectivity. Writers are lone warriors, working alone for hours a day, with fierce determination at times and horrible block and depression at others. I’ve been drifting between the tech/business and the writer/academic worlds for my entire adult life. Just recently, I’ve noticed that they are slowly beginning to meet. Well, “meet” is putting it nicely.
Most writers don’t have any clue what social media and ‘web 2.0′ are. They have never heard of Chris Brogan (who seemed to call everyone I know last night) or CC Chapman or Jeff Pulver or Twitter or Qik or Seesmic. Writers, then, are like most people. Still in the dark as to what is coming.
Social media mavens don’t have a clue, in general, of what is going on in the publishing industry. They don’t read books much. They are on-line, but they haven’t moved over to reading entire novels on a screen. Younger generations are more accustomed to this, but social media people would rather listen to a podiobook than go to the library to pick up page book.
Here is one example of a fence skirmish between the mavens and the writers I witnessed recently. Back in November, I wrote a post for my NanoWriMo friends about Book Trailers, mini-movie previews for your written novel (not a movie trailer for a feature-length film based on your novel, but a trailer for just the actual novel). I see it as a great development and marketing tool. It’s combining two arts, film and novel-writing; it could be a new way to get people excited to read. What’s not to like?
But a writer’s group I joined last week in Yahoo has some genuine curmudgeons insulting the new art and practice of the Book Trailer. I didn’t jump into the discussion; I can sniff out unchangeable minds in a listserv like a police dog screening for coke. I’ll allow them their culture and stay perched on the fence (the view is usually pretty clear from up here anyway).
If I thought the writers would listen, I’d say that a more relevant and useful discussion would be to address concerns about the reading experience. For example, let’s chat about casting. Many writers purposely avoid describing their character’s physical characteristics so the reader (i.e. ‘user’) forms their own mental picture. A trailer may hinder the novelist’s intent to engage the user’s imagination. We can also chat about plot twists and spoilers. A trailer, in using film’s unique way of portraying human nuance and slight communication, may give away basic plot structure. We could talk about human psychology and storytelling in film and novels for hours on these questions alone. But to get to these discussions, more writers have to approach the fence. Right now, it’s mostly back-turned resentment. On both sides.
As you know, I’m a big fan of social media, blogging, vlogging, and technology in general. But the mavens need to take a step closer to the fence, too. Writers study human nature. They tell tales that give insight and into our past, present and future lives. They speak to our spirit, our very core of existence. Just because you have your own .tv channel doesn’t mean you have the skills to produce that magic that comes from consuming a great story or poem. Reach out to some writers in your village, whether it be a webtown or hometown. Appreciate their talents, and they’ll adopt your strategies and include you. Social media stories will show up in literature that will be more relevant to your lives (which is why the soul seeks out art). I am writing my novel with social media in mind. I’m not the only one.
Writers, get involved. Get into blogging and podcasting, even if you are just consuming it. You belong in this social media wave even if the mavens wonder why you don’t “produce content.” It is up to writers to come out of their shells and accept new media into their space. Listen to the new stories and see the new art around you. These people can inspire you, get you work, and market your book.
Neither side is evil and neither side is sinless. But together, I think we can raise the level of literacy across all platforms and cultures. And, as we all know, more literacy means more peace.
I’m out. Gotta keep riding this desperado fence until I find a place I can call home.
Love. Literacy. Peace.