I didn't -- really still don't -- have a post ready this morning. I am now deep, deep into the final draft of The Boy With the Painful Tattoo (don't forget to order it at that special pre-order price!) and it is just so difficult to interact with the outside world now.
Partly that's the constraint of time. Partly it's simply the difficulty of slipping between worlds.
But if I had time, I would be posting about the strangeness of creative animals and social media. It's not a natural or easy blend. Creative people tend to be over-sensitive and introverted -- their isolation is not always forced upon them, in fact it is probably rarely forced upon them. The older I get, the more I suspect that isolation may be one of the necessary ingredients for creativity.
Which is why I think so often reviews and authors go badly. I've heard non-creative people say things like, "If authors are going to put their work into the world, they have to be able to 'take it.'"
"It" being the constant barrage of white noise commentary from outside.
And, like I said, that's a non-creative person talking.
I've been thinking more and more about this uncomfortable melding of social interaction and the creative temperament. I watched a couple of documentaries the other evening about Vivian Maier. Even if you don't watch the documentaries, check out her work. Basically she shot something like one hundred thousand incredible photographs -- and never shared a single one with anyone.
AND around the same time that I was mulling over the question of how much of art is simply for ourselves, a reader friend pointed me to yet another author behaving badly on Facebook.
This author was saying something we ALL privately think: why do readers contact us personally to ask questions they could easily answer themselves by checking our website? Why take my valuable and limited writing time up to ask which book comes next in a series? Or when the next book is coming out? Or have you ever thought of writing another Adrien English book? Or...well, you get it.
And of course the answer is, the reader wishes to contact YOU, the author. It's not really about anything other than that. Anyone savvy enough to find your email address has already found your website and is aware she or he could find the information they need for themselves.
But this writer snapped. A combination of things probably happened. She began to believe her own promo efforts, she didn't know what or how to share so she was babbling incessant and tiresome nonsense, and the constant strain of being a public person began to show. She said The Unthinkable.
WHY ARE YOU BOTHERING ME?
And the result was predictable. Readers were outraged. Loudly. In multiple comments.
And rightly so. I mean, how the hell hard is it to hire someone to answer your email and FB posts if you can't keep up? Pull yourself together, sweetcheeks. Shut up and hire a personal assistant to pretend to be you.
And yet, I do feel an unlikely sympathy for this socially challenged soul. Demanding smooth social interaction from a creative -- often highly strung -- personality is probably asking for trouble. Even mostly calm and well-trained social animals like myself snap now and then. Harried and chased into the brush by screaming madmen with pointy spears, I'm not alone in thinking What the heck do you WANT from me?
I'm not sure even readers know the answer to this question. That's how messed up social media has made normal social interaction.
But I think I will leave it there and allow you all to comment -- or not -- on this dilemma of the creative social animal. For myself, the more I know about the artist, the more difficult it is to enjoy the work. And yet the current trend is for the artist to share as much of themselves as possible in as many channels as they can manage.
What does this mean for art? What does this mean for the artist?