THINGS WE DO AND DO NOT SEE COMING
I am lucky enough to live near a street lined with ornamental pear trees, and each year as winter winds towards a close I watch them for the first signs of blossom. When the buds break I know it’s time to visit the pear arbour at Carrick Hill. The arbour comes into its full glory early in September, and with the mild spring weather it is a heavenly spot to sit and write, or just to soak up the sunshine and listen to the buzz of bees among the blossom.
Last weekend I went to a workshop on making E-books. I heard how important it was for authors to engage with social media, even to the extent of utilising services like Twitterfeed and Hootsuite to automatically schedule tweets every seven hours; this means that you can be tweeting while you sleep. I heard about ways to identify the online places where potential readers hang out, and how to infiltrate and strike up conversations. I even learned how to upload an electronic book to Amazon.
I finished up the day wondering whether there is something else we cannot see coming. Perhaps a backlash against these expectations that a writer will expend precious hours on posting and tweeting and blogging, activities touted as stepping up to meet a challenge but in reality a time-consuming dumbing down. Maybe more authors will find the courage to do things that appear risky because they go against the grain of the times. Like Ann Patchett, who has opened a book shop in Nashville, and written about it in The Bookshop Strikes Back.
Perhaps writers whose goal is still to write something fine will soon find the strength to rebel against what is now expected of them. They will turn off Twitterfeed; they will not photograph their breakfast and post it on Facebook; they will allow their cats and their children to return to a state of anonymity, while they concentrate on what they do best, which is wrestling words onto a blank page. I do not see this backlash arriving any time soon, but that does not mean it will not come.