Thursday, October 21, 2010

unbelievable but it works

Missed a reading at school tonight to read at the Moaning Pipe Open Mic, which went well enough. I was workshopping some new stuff by judging crowd response, and hung out with a couple of the other participants afterward, which was nice.

My buddy Angela Horner announced her website, which is linked in the sidebar, and was almost embarrassed by having one at all. I kind of understand that, since self-promotion is awkward and makes one feel more like a carnival huckster than a genuine artist when done to excess. But any marketer will tell you that people don't buy products, they buy a strange jumble of intangibles radiated by that product. The same goes for artists, albeit not as blatantly. I've probably mentioned before that the wisdom now is to develop a camaraderie with readers - reach out to them, establish your personality, communicate with them for reasons other than outright begging them to buy stuff from you - so they will cozy up to your brand, as it were, and support you of their own accord. Of course, since the pressure is on to be cool and interesting, this often means crafting a persona that you'll need to slip in and out of for any and all interaction with the public, which means exaggerating an aspect of your personality that you think will attract people. Not all writers do this, but a lot of them do.

If I had my druthers, I'd opt for the Thomas Pynchon approach of reclusiveness to the point where everyone thinks I'm dead until a new book comes out. There's much less pressure there, and it's also kinda cool to know an author primarily by their work instead of the bajillions of social networking tools they use to spam your life for their own roundabout gain. But I wonder if his being able to disappear is even possible, let alone personally or financially wise, in today's media landscape. It was a lot harder to keep track of people back in the 70s, after all.

Anyway, I'm starting to ramble, so I'm going to shut up and go to sleep, but I might continue this a bit later.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

a radically different concept of success

Cross-posted from my Comm. Design class blog:

I've had Jane Delury for a couple of classes, so I know her and her tutorial on submitting to journals pretty well. I started submitting to online journals right after I graduated from college, so I know the process, but I still learned something from Jane's lecture. I also appreciate her honesty about literary journals, how they're edited, and how, shall we say, tight their readership is.

She also gave the class a chance to interact in small groups, which was a neat idea. Given that this is a lecture series, we don't often get to do that, and it's nice, speaking as a writer, to commune with designers every so often and see things with their eyes. I'm still very much a novice when it comes to determining how things look, and there's a whole vocabulary to design that I'm missing. Besides, picking apart the numerous layout and typeface errors in literary journals is fun! There's definitely a "look" to lit. journals that I've never liked, but I'm learning to explain what it is I don't like, and how I would change it if given the chance. Hopefully the designers in the class won't roll their eyes at my obvious questions too much.

The writing exercise was also fun - I generally give stories more of a chance than the first paragraph (in fact, when I edited a journal in undergrad I read everything all the way through), but Jane's right about grabbing people from the beginning. And pooling minds to rewrite opening paragraphs badly is both a great way to bond with classmates and a reverse-osmosis method of learning what makes a good sentence and a good paragraph.

Like I said, I learned a lot. Jane's a good representative of the CWPA program, and I'm glad she was able to share her time and knowledge with us.