Friday, September 10, 2010


Screenshot of the White Rabbit from the traile...Image via Wikipedia

Dear You—

Given the amount of information that is now available, I sometimes get the feeling we need to introduce the 48 hour day. Certainly, I find it extremely difficult to juggle the kind of daily reading I like to do to keep up, with book writing, social media, blogging, e-mail, general administration, and all the learning one needs to do to master constantly changing software and the other tools of the modern communicator – and I haven’t even got to podcasting, graphics and the kind of movie talent one needs to put together an acceptable YouTube presentation of the kind which, I am advised, is becoming de rigeur if one wants to make it in the writing game. I could add texting but I have steered clear of that so far. On the other hand I haven’t mentioned book reading which is innately time consuming in itself. More and more, I feel myself identifying with the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland rushing around crying: “I’m late! I’m late!” In fact, I think it is highly probable that my ears are getting longer and I’m growing fur (though that may be coming from the cats).

To make matters worse (he said with some humor in his voice) I am under constant pressure from well meaning friends to promote myself more, to be more outgoing, to network and generally to market myself “because that’s the American Way, Victor, and you’ll just have to get used to it.” I’m also supposed to be doing public speaking, teaching writing master classes, sending out press releases, cultivating both TV and radio talk show circuits and attending seminars about how to promote myself even more effectively. Oy vey, indeed! Welcome to a struggling writer’s world in the 21st century.

To make matters worse, I was brought up to regard self-promotion as absolutely “not done,” boasting to be socially unacceptable, self-deprecating understatement to be the standard, and one’s status to be implied through subtle social signals such as one’s accent, choice of tailor, how one held one’s tea-cup and so-on – rather than overt success, let alone wealth. All in all, I sometimes have the feeling that my excellent and expensive British public school education, and my years spent in Trinity College Dublin’s ancient portals, ill prepared me for the modern world.

In truth, I am awed by the range of skills a modern citizen seems to require to get through the day. All I seem to be able to do is write and even that facility is very much a work-in-progress and utterly demanding of my time and focus. As for the rest, it’s fascinating and can be fun but I secretly hearken back to the days of authors like Arthur Hailey who lived in the Bahamas (or some such), wrote for no more than four hours a day, and devoted four years to writing each heavily researched novel.

With that thought, I shall rise and go search for a carrot.

Farewell. I miss your wit and company.


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1 comment:

  1. Something's not quite right about all this. Too many tools, not enough focus. Admittedly I don't know about enough about the publishing biz to speak authoritatively, but the approach seems guaranteed to rob one of all time. When you fail the reason will be that you didn't put in enough time, or money, or.... something. There's only so much time in the day. At some point you're going need to make a decision about affective use of resources.