Friday, February 24, 2012

Self Promotion as Self Reflection

by Anita Hughes

One of the greatest joys of being a mother is not having the time to think about yourself. As a mother you are so busy attending to scraped knees and elbows, broken bones and bruised egos, you don't focus on your own small dramas.

The same is true about being an author. The minute you turn on the computer and disappear into the world of your characters, you stop obsessing about real world problems like faulty appliances, ruined recipes or anything else that can derail your day.

 So it is a rude shock, like stepping out of a warm Jacuzzi into a cold shower to suddenly have to promote your book and talk about YOU. When did you first start writing? What is your inspiration? Does your story draw from personal experience? Why would I want to talk about ME when the purpose of writing fiction is to create an imaginary world and sweep me under the rug.

Self promotion, I have found, is very much self reflection. I am asked questions by well meaning interviewers that make me look at myself, my choices over the years, what I see for my future. What are my goals, beliefs, ideals. I can't simply answer: "I write so I don't have to think about those things!" I write so I can forget about war, famine, heartbreak and trauma and submerge myself in a world I control. Certainly, my characters go through terrible moments. Sometimes I cry while I write, but it is up to me to rescue them (or not) and shape the ending as I see fit. But what I have found as I fill out another author Q&A, is that in the process I get to know myself better. I learn what are my strengths and weaknesses, where I have come from and where I would like to be going. And that makes me a better writer. I approach my new manuscript with more confidence in my abilities, more energy, more excitement for what the future holds for my characters and myself.

No writer wants to spend the day gazing in the mirror (writers - like mothers - are not know for their glamorous wardrobe and makeup choices) but a little introspection now and then makes one wiser. So I am thankful for the opportunity to ask myself questions that have been lurking in my brain, hidden under the needs of my fictional characters and real-life children.

7 comments:

  1. "We do not write to be understood. We write to understand." - C.S. Lewis

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    1. Love that quote, Brenda. So true. So true. I write about things that gnaw at me.

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  2. Great post! Writing has gotten me through some tough times. It certainly is an escape! Not so crazy about this self-promotion stuff though.

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  3. Anita:
    I so relate to this. I blurted to my husband: "I am sick of myself!" And I am. The flogging of the book, gosh, it is necessary but it really wears an author down.

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  4. Ah, self-promo... As difficult as it is, reflecting about the book during Q&As does help frame the experience and draw out connections, themes, and inspirations we may not have even been conscious of.

    Love this post!

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  5. Anita, this is the part of the book birthing process I can so relate to right now. This really helped put it in perspective. Thanks for an excellent post !

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  6. I so agree. Writing has always been my escape. If I could, I would just hide in my office with my MacBook Air and never come out. But my first novel is also a very personal story on many levels, and you're right, thinking about the story behind the story is part of my learning curve. You've really given me something to think about--thanks!

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