Tag Archives: Advertising

The Musical Fruit

I’ve never been good at tooting my own horn. And don’t get me wrong, I try. My parents even had me taking lessons for a while. Maybe its the fact that my lips get tired after a while, or maybe emptying my spit valve is just too disgusting for me to think about. I don’t know what it is, but after years of trying I’ve decided that becoming a professional trumpet player just wasn’t in the cards.

So I decided, “Hey, I’ll become a writer. No tooting of horns required there.” Only I was wrong. The horn of need follows me, it HAUNTS me. It lives in my dreams, and I am forever falling into the darkness of its terrifyingly smooth and circular mouth.

That’s right. Because as a writer, I have to do a little something called, (gulp), self-promotion.

I have to get out there and tell people, “You know that money you were planning on spending a deep-tissue massage for your gerbil? Well maybe you should take some of that money and spend it on my book instead.”

And it terrifies me.

Why? Well for one thing there’s that tiny nagging fear at the back of my mind whispering that I’m really not that good. It doesn’t matter that I’ve had a number people who are not my mother read my story and generally conclude that it is of acceptable and even admirable quality. I still can’t help thinking of myself as a hack. A wannabe.

And that’s a terrible place to be. Because what self-promotion is saying is, “There are people out there who would love to read what I’ve written, and it’s my job to make sure they know about it.”

Wow. Just writing that sentence was hard. In fact, you know what? Writing this whole blog post has been difficult for me. I’ve been dithering away the morning by doing chores and finishing a book I’ve been reading all because it’s become increasingly apparent to me that I’m not good at this self-promotion thing.

That has to change.

It’s not that I need to become some egotistical windbag, constantly spamming my Twitter feed with how great my work is, but there’s no point in putting the work into writing the book if no one ever reads it. Otherwise I might as well stuff it in a trunk somewhere.

Because the truth is, if I’m going to have the balls to sell my work at all that means I have to believe that you want my story more than you want your dollar. That you will, in fact, find my writing to be worth more than many of the other things your dollar might have bought you.

Still, it isn’t easy. This isn’t an instruction guide. It’s not me telling you that I’ve solved the problem and here’s how you can too. But maybe just recognizing that I’ve got some issues is a good place to start.

If you’ve got some advice to share I’d love to hear it.

In the mean time, this might be the proper place to announce that I’m giving one of my short stories a nice official roll-out announcement on this blog tomorrow. I’ll be wincing at my keyboard as I try to say nice things about my own writing. So stay tuned for that.

In Defense of Twilight

 

So here’s the deal people: I kinda hate Twilight. I tried to read it once, back in its heyday thinking, “Hey, this is super popular. It can’t be all bad.” But, oh was I wrong. The plot was banal and uninteresting, but even worse than that the prose limped along in uninspired fits and spurts that felt harsh and unnatural.

It was so difficult to stomach that after struggling through more than half of the book I gave up. Since then I’ve been an active participant on the Stephanie Meyers hate-wagon. I bash her writing as often as I can, I pick apart the bizarre threads of her plots, and I absolutely adore the Reasoning with Vampires website.

BUT.

I am not a moron. There are some who may disagree on this point, but let’s ignore them, yes?

I know people who love Twilight. I mean really really love. When they read Twilight, it was the same experience for them as reading House of Leaves was for me. And there are millions of these people all over the world. Why?

We could be cynical and say that it’s all because of advertising dollars and irrational hype, but that doesn’t jive with me.

You may not know this, but I’m kind of a fan of P. T. Barnum. Everyone knows P. T. Barnum said, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” But most people don’t know that he didn’t stop talking after he said that. One of the other things he said, in fact one of his core philosophies was this: “Do whatever crazy thing you have to do to advertise your stuff, but know this: if your product sucks all the advertising in the world won’t make it a success.” Okay, so he didn’t say it exactly that way, but you get the gist.

The people I know who love Twilight don’t love it because of advertising and they don’t love it because everyone else loves it. They love it because there’s something in there, amidst all the tangled prose and watered down plot that speaks to them on a very personal level.

When Stephanie Meyer talks about the inspiration for Twilight she tells the story of a dream that arrested her attention and inspired her to sit down and work on the story whenever she could grab a spare moment. In other words, the story meant something personal to her. It welled up from the very core of her being to the point that she could not stop herself from writing it.

That is what I believe has given the Twilight Saga the staying power it has enjoyed for so long. Of course there are problems with Meyer’s writing, but in spite of those problems millions of women have connected with that same tug of urgency Meyer felt when she first conceived the idea.

She wasn’t just writing a story. She was writing her story.

We could all learn a thing or two from her. We spend a lot of time trying to hone our craft and learn the intricacies of structure, but ultimately there is something greater than these things. If we’re going to write a story, we need to be sure it is a story we love. Because all the wonderful prose and perfect plotting in the world can’t replace what every story really needs: a soul.

Only when we give a little piece of ourselves dug from out of the deepest corner of our hearts will we be able to truly move and affect our readers.