The perils of a public presence

A few months ago I scribbled down some notes on posts I’d like to write. One of them was ‘The Perils Of A Public Presence’. I’ve been thinking about revisiting that idea, what with the flurry of recent posts in the YA community about a ‘YA Mafia’ and the impact blogging can have on a writing career.

The funny thing about that post idea, though, is that it isn’t about how bloggers might hurt a future career as writers. It’s about how writers have hurt my interest in their books by sharing too much about their own process, and how I want to be wary of doing the same thing.

It has happened to me more than once: I encounter an author via an interview or an FAQ or a blog, and I find out something about their politics or approach to writing or even their personality that changes how I approach their fiction. Occasionally it makes me more enthusiastic about their books. Often it has made me less.

“Stay off the internet, then!” you’re probably thinking. And that’s fair! But the thing is, there are also authors on the internet who haven’t influenced my experience of reading their books AT ALL. I enjoy reading about them as colleagues rather than as dispensers of entertainment. I think mostly those are authors who don’t talk about the process of writing their books very much.  Limited insight after a book has been released hasn’t bothered me much, but discussion of a book while it’s being written always seems to alter my expectations of the book. As an example, a writer blogs about a GREAT scene they just wrote, and I wonder, “I wonder if I’ll think it’s that great?” They may talk about killing off characters, which I inevitably remember when the book comes out. And so on.

So, it’s not the sort of thing I want to do. I think it’s part and parcel of an author being an imaginary idealized person in a fan’s head– and I’m okay with learning who an author really is. But what I don’t want to see is the guts and bones of a book as it’s being assembled! How about you?

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