You probably remember that I was a corporate lawyer. So I’m fairly comfortable with corporate ways of thinking and speaking. Well, lately I’ve been hearing a lot about “author platforms.” Authors are supposed to build their platforms. And I understand that term – it’s very much corporate speak – although I don’t particularly like it. Know why? Because it’s not an interesting metaphor. A platform is a flat surface on which something else happens, and the sorts of things I’ve heard described as parts of an author’s platform are not flat, not inert. They are alive, dynamic.
If we are going to be writers, and we may as well be – writers, not just authors – then we need better metaphors. When we blog or use facebook or tweet, we do not build platforms. We create something that has a life of its own, an online presence that is always changing, that does not simply support our writing but is instead a dynamic part of our writing lives. I mean, look at the exercises I’m doing on this blog. Some of them will become stories. And parts of my stories will later appear here, perhaps creating new ideas for exercises. And I will likely teach some of those exercises in writing workshops. I’m not building a platform but interweaving the different parts of my writing life so that they create a changing, living whole.
And I think about that writing life not just as a businessperson but as a creative person. As someone who can understand the corporate mindset but also takes her guidance from fairy tales. For example, if you’re going to do something, I believe in doing it three ways. That sounds like it came out of a fairy tale, doesn’t it? It’s a rule of threes.
My writing life has three components. The first is the most traditional component: it exists on paper. My books are part of it, but so are any pamphlets I put together. Anything a reader can hold in his or her hands that has my writing on it. The second is also a fairly traditional component: it’s the part in which I’m physically present, at a convention or a reading. I’m there, and the reader can meet me or listen to me, have me sign books. The third component is online. The lines between those three components are not as sharply drawn as they used to be. Is a Kindle more like a physical book, or like going online? If I read a story and post the recording online, is that like going to a reading? But in general, you know what I mean. My writing life has those three components, and I don’t want to neglect any of them. I certainly don’t want to stop creating things that readers can hold and have signed. I don’t want to stop meeting readers. And I don’t want to stop being an online presence either, because that is the way I communicate about the other two aspects of my writing life. In a sense it’s what holds the other two aspects together. Without it, how would you be able to find my books or know where I will be?
And because I’m a writer, and I think magically, I wanted that online part of my writing life to have three components as well. So now you can follow me three ways:
1. You can come to this website, which will always be here. And if you’re interested, you can read this blog.
2. You can friend me on facebook, and you’ll know what I’m thinking and doing day to day.
3. As of today, you can follow me on twitter. Look to your right: you’ll see my latest tweets below my facebook icon. Click on Latest Tweets to see everything I’ve tweeted so far. And notice how nicely I decorated my twitter page! I’m really rather proud of it. I’m still getting used to twitter, and to be honest I’m not quite sure what I’ll be tweeting about yet. But you know me. I will probably tweet quotations I like, and about writing and art. The sorts of things that interest me, and that I think might interest you. That’s the third leg of my online stool, as it were, and I like that metaphor better than a platform, although it still doesn’t express what I see as the complexity and vitality of our writing lives now, when we have so many ways to write, so many media in which to express ourselves.
Come follow me . . . I may lead you down a rabbit hole or to Never Never Land. But knowing you, you’re not going to mind that, right?