So, at some point here, I’m going to write this big manifesto about publishing that will no doubt get whispered about on the internet for the next fifteen years, but for right now, I’m back with another Q&A session. Is it lazy? Sure. Maybe. But maybe there are questions here that you’ve been afraid to ask, so maybe you shouldn’t be too judgmental.
(1) Does an author need to be all up in the social media hive? Twitter, Facebook, etc. (@zbarnes)
This is definitely a question that I’m going to be addressing in the Big Manifesto, but my short answer here is...no. I want to tell you more. I want to discuss this at great length, but for right now, I’m just going to say, no, an author does not need to be all up in the social media hive.
(2) What makes the Big Message so hard to articulate? (@seanchercover)
When an author—actually, let me expand this—when people have something that is buzzing around their insides that they want to share with the rest of the world, there’s an added stress to make sure you get it right. The mistake is in thinking that proper articulation (finding the right words) is the only necessary component.
There’s also body language, use of exclamation points, ability to be heard, and about a million other things at play. The words are important, yeah, but they are not everything.
I know that probably sounds like something I shouldn’t give voice to on account of me making a living by selling words, but the truth is the truth and I can’t dispute it here and try to peddle it somewhere else as gospel.
Anyway, back to the question about the Big Message. It turns out some people don’t believe in the Big Message. To them, life is a series of 30 minute episodes with no story arc. Things happen. People laugh. People cry. Special guests appear for an episode. Some stick around (Cousin Oliver being the prime example). Other times there are very special episodes and those usually involve a tragedy.
But there is no arc.
Therein lies one of the problems of articulating a Big Message—you have to convince, subtly, and without a hammer, those people who aren’t inclined to believe in Big Messages that there is, in fact, a Big Message without being written off as a pretentious, pseudo-intellectual, loud mouth who is madly in love with the sound of his own voice.
Then again, there are others who believe in the Big Message. Those two can be broken down into two categories.
(1) The Know-it-All. Not only does the Know-it-All believe in the Big Message, but he/she knows the Big Message and isn’t afraid to tell you about it and criticize you for not believing or call you stupid for believing something else.
(2) Then there’s the Socrates school (the wisest among us know nothing) of people who are searching for the Big Message. Really looking. Behind rocks. Under the carpet. In the stars. In the laughter of strangers. On the open stretch of highway connecting every goddamn town I’ve ever...they’ve ever driven down. Sometimes the Big Message feels like it’s in your hand, but you don’t dare open your hand because you’re afraid that as soon as you pry your fingers apart it will float away like so much campfire smoke. And sometimes, with that message in hand, you’d like to gather everybody around for show and tell, but you are deathly afraid of opening up that paw of yours and only seeing the lifelines delicately carved into your palm.
Ok, (this has gone on entirely too long, and for that I apologize, sincerely, but also, I persist) now that we’ve narrowed down the three general approaches to the Big Message, you can see why it’s hard to articulate. If you aren’t afraid of being called a pretentious asshole by one group you’re worried about being told you’re wrong by another. And adding to all of that, you aren’t even entirely sure what you’ve got, because you’re afraid to really give it the once over, and in most cases, doubt you can hold onto it long enough to even look.
And that, friend, is the answer to that.
I ramble even more over on my website http://www.benjaminleroy.com