“Anon, who wrote so many poems without signing them, was often a woman.”
― Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own
So You Are… Pregnant! needs to get out there and be read, though this is easier said than done when on the cusp of airing the personal undergarments of your world to the world.
Soon I will shut down my personal accounts temporarily and eventually – permanently – and shift my social media needs solely to servicing my writing world. I’ll then FINALLY click the privacy settings off on my hidden accounts and release what I’ve been chipping away at for two years – into the universe.
I’m more than aware this is the worse way of launching a career – to ghosts who don’t know I exist let alone like what I’ve got to offer. This was not the way I’d planned for any of this to go – but this is what I’ve got to work with now. So be it.
I have definitely been – struggling to launch on multiple levels. Had I been launching the historical fiction instead of a semi-memoirish tell-all – my approach to all of this would have been a far less over-thought one.
I’ve had to reassess the ways I use my platforms without the heavy borrow from my family. This is proving to be both crap and creative. Even though most of my posts on my author insta are fairly blah compared to my personal one, they’re getting there.
JUST a trip to the local library could have me writing and posting for days. Actually, I could write a whole book on it. Possible titles –
From under rocks – into imagination…
Books, Freaks & Switchblades – the struggling artist’s account…
I’m also not so naive that eventually I will need to be present in the flesh and not hide behind my keyboard – even if it is for a minimal fuss book signing consisting mostly of family members, a surly security guard and a lady who thought she was coming to see Natasha Lester and begrudgingly stays for a sympathy cuppa. I sign her copy of The Paris Seamstress. She’s unimpressed.
Back to the point… Even then – does the identity of my family need to be open season to the public? These are the overthinking niggling questions that keep me up at night – all the what if’s that may and probably won’t even happen!
The reason for my overly concerned obsession for privacy is the comment that crops up when I reluctantly share I am writing a book (after the odd looks of ew – like I have a contagious rash, or the oh really… but why? comments):
“Do you want to be famous or something?”
I won’t go into my inner reaction – suffice to say – it’s never really a pine scented, misty mountain one.
Short answer – fck no thank you.
Second short answer I wish I had the balls to say –
Why? Because I want to write for a living therefore I can only want to be famous? Or because I want my books to be successful? Why does success have to equate to fame? I’m a grungy nineties girl at heart who for the better part of that decade spent it blissfully stoned and desiring nothing more than to hide away writing woeful poetry and watching the world from the view of my doona. That girl still stakes a large claim on the middle-aged woman I am today. She is creative, but very, very anti-attention.
Long winded, over wordy answer –
The book at this stage is still unfinished and I’m very much steeped in my borderline disorder inducing world of What-if-Land and most of those what if’s have shit-all to do with succeeding, let alone what attention it may bring, if any.
What if everyone hates it?
What if no one buys it?
What if I have to drag this out another year?
What if self-publishing is the worse idea ever?
What if I get hated on and never want to write again?
What if it IS successful and I have to do some type of media?
What if no one shows up?
What if only haters show up?
What if that bloody lady comes back looking for Natasha Lester again?
and seriously – it goes onnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn
If there are two things I am not pretending to be – is brave or a fame-chaser.
Plus, I am verrrrrrry simple. I’m more concerned about the local level. The communities I’m a part of. The parent peers who will read this stuff and question my sanity around their kids. I”m safeguarding my children’s privacy by not commenting on school forums or divulging literary plans under my real name. It’s borderline paranoid how much I do not want attention focused on my link to my own book.
“Fame” leases no space in my brain. It’s a word for untouchables. People I’ll never know, or meet, or be, or want to be. It’s irrelevant to what I’m doing in my corner.
And not to be bitter – but from my personal and private little world – eff fame. I love privacy too much. I love being unknown. I love slipping through life unnoticed, which for those who know me would think the statement ridiculous because from the outside – I’ve always appeared a larger than life extrovert. I mean – I’m a bloody Bollywood dancer – it doesn’t get much louder, showier and bling bling look at me than that.
That’s never been what it’s about.
Like my writing – I know I hold a power of reaching my audience and affecting them in a beautiful way. I see the reactions when I dance. It affects people positively. It makes them smile. It creates a flash of wow – this random whatever the fck she is – is actually making me happy – and in that second there’s a chance they’ll run with that feeling, submit to the joy and be joyful. Even if it’s just for a millisecond and the moment is never remembered again – I’ve done my job (albeit with minimal skills, qualifications and much unco-jumbo). I’ve created a yellow core memory for someone, perhaps even a few someone’s and that is mint.
That’s the main driver – other than I would like to write (and dance) for the rest of my life and set up my own universe where my children, family and friends will have an opportunity to work within my sphere and carve their own careers off of my springy boards if they choose to.
I HEART PIPE DREAMS
They’re fun – even if they are made of fairy floss.
Back to the fame-shame –
In my dream world I would put ANON on every piece of work and for the better half of last year that was exactly what I was going to do. But Anon is not the smartest move for an unknown, emerging artist, especially one who wants, or in my case, needs to make a living.
Which brings me to the other side of doing what is necessary in order to follow path and passion.
At the very dawn of social media Green Man set up my accounts on Twitter and Facebook. I studied it all briefly and looked at him confused.
“Why would I want the world to know what I’m doing? Why would I give the world access into my life when I screen my relatives phone calls?
The plain boring facts are – even published writers are expected to put in the effort with platforms and if you want to sell – you have to sell yourself and your brand. That sentence alone makes me want to vom.
But, after initially fighting it I’ve hopefully created my own way of getting around putting myself, my family, our images and our lives out there – just to sell a book. Ironically – I think that could be my niche – being a semi-anon in a system that wants your all.
The evolution of influencers has lead to an evolution of normal random citizens leading lives that appear to be fame-driven, but within the entrepreneurial sphere – it’s the driver and necessity of running a business in the modern world. A means of survival and many are doing so with celebrated success. Even celebrities are mirroring them!
There has to be a happy medium.
The thought of vlogging, tik-toking, or constantly shoving my face onto peoples screens and talking about god knows what to who knows who – makes me shudder. To be another guru head waffling on, or the first thing people see when they wake up? Ugh. I don’t want people to watch my content, get to the end and think – why did I just watch that? What a waste of my time (like I do every fricking day with the flood every platform trend).
I honestly don’t want to add to the noise or open myself up too much. I have, however, accepted in this new world – you can’t have one without the other – but hopefully – will maintain control over what is mine without losing anything with my wins.
What perhaps looks like a bid for attention grabby, fame-hungry behaviour – is at times a necessity to be successful as an author.
Do you want to be famous?
I just want to write books people enjoy and do my own thing, without expectations or explanations. Connect with the people who got some takeaways from my mad little tale and hopefully write some more to deepen the connection.
If that means documenting what my dog had for breakfast then this probably isn’t the gig for me. These writing efforts should be enough… right? Who the hell knows, clearly not me.
So I’ll dance this dance to get my work in front of the eyeballs who need it. Then hopefully I will last the journey long enough – to see anonymity come into trend again.
What has praise and fame to do with poetry? Was not writing poetry a secret transaction, a voice answering a voice? So that all this chatter and praise, and blame and meeting people who admired one and meeting people who did not admire one was as ill suited as could be to the thing itself- a voice answering a voice.
Virginia Woolf (2012). “Orlando: A Biography”, p.306, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Absolutely no offence intended to anyone who shares their life online. You’re all cool as.