The writer, the writing and the audience

Stumbling into my first forays into online writing, it’s been an interesting month. Most striking has been the impact of social interaction online as dependent on whether people engage with your work or not. It’s all very well writing a blog, but if nobody reads it, what is it for?

It strikes me as strange how authors need to increasingly become ‘public’ figures, having blogs, Facebook pages and Twitter accounts. It used to be that the publishing house did all the legwork – for better or worse, until the dawn of e-publishing and the growth of the internet, this did the trick. It kept a wall between writer, writing and audience which now has to be deconstructed if people are ever to engage with your work.

But that strikes me as slightly odd. An actor is known for their different roles and, while tabloids do take interest in their personal lives, they would never (mostly never) read into the personal life of an actor within a role they played. Exceptions include, for example, openly gay actors who take on gay roles and freely comment in interviews with the press that they took on the role at least in part because they could identify with it on a ‘deeper level’.

But the reason I took so long to set up a blog – despite having had short stories published regularly since the age of 14 (a slightly-depressing-almost-12-years-ago) – was that people seem to increasingly prescribe what they know about the author to the fiction they produce. Despite my huge agreement with Roland Barthes, who was right long before the dawn of the web, it feels like I am one of a few remaining in this school of thought.

I write as characters. I am not a seventy year old man waiting to die. I am not a six year old girl who has finally learned to tie her shoelaces (mainly because I still struggle with this). I am not a transgender vampire who aspires to Broadway (storyline tbc…). But I write under pseudonyms, because if there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that people will look for the ‘me’ parts in a story. They expect me to throw in clues about my life. It’s like Orson Scott Card becoming the latest Superman author – the massive backlash is because he is notoriously anti-gay. But is he going to make Superman homophobic? No, because his art – and the control DC Comics have over it – is separate from him.

I write stories. They are fiction. Make-believe. While I prefer realist fiction, some of it is sci-fi, some fantasy, some historical, some futuristic. That doesn’t mean I have a time machine (unless you count Wikipedia) or that I am a science fiction geek (still haven’t watched Episodes 4,5, and 6).

So it seems so odd to me that I have to generate interest in my fiction by putting myself, as a brand, as a person, out there. Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to remain incredibly secretive – indeed if you read any other post on this blog you’ll see that’s me laying my soul bare – but creating the interest around me as a person in order to create interest in the stories I write baffles me.

I can’t help but feel this post isn’t quite finished. But I need to percolate the remaining thoughts into something more coherent. I lost my essay writing skills shortly after leaving uni (and seems the Masters isn’t doing much to help).


Rather apt for Valentine’s day…

The next story in the Unlabelled Collection is now available for Kindle. Called Betrayed Hearts, this short story takes a look at her true feelings on her wedding day.

The Valentine’s day release was pure coincidence. Amazon took their time approving it!

Go on, help a penniless writer out and help me buy a pint of milk (next stop: a loaf of bread. Oh, the dizzying heights of writing fame).

You can find it here:

The Wedding (Story excerpt)

Smoothing my hand over the puffy satin skirt, I traced imaginary creases out of the ivory cloth. The net underneath was starting to itch. My stockings were a little too short to meet the suspenders, pulling the white lace tight into my thighs. At least no one could see that through the meringue skirt.
“I want to be a princess, too.” My flower girl Emily pouted, her big brown eyes looking up at me. I stroked her soft hair.
“But you are going to be more than a princess. You’re going to be a fairy.” I laughed as her eyes lit up wide as I reached for the parcel sitting on the grandiose dressing table. I gave it to her. She handled the pink tissue paper like glass, turning the packet around and around.
“What is it?”
“Open it and see. Go on, it’s for you.”
She opened the silver sticking tape with care, trying not to rip the delicate paper. As the layers fell away, her smile glowed, showing perfect white milk teeth in a straight row – except the one which grew wonky on one side and made her top lip bump slightly when her mouth was closed. She lifted out a pair of pink fairy wings, glittery and edged in white fluff.
“Don’t forget your wand!” Cecilia, my maid of honour, danced around in a circle, twirling a star-shaped pink wand around her head. The ribbons on it swirled through the air, framing her porcelain-perfect face. Emily leaped up and grabbed the wand, twirling around in circles as she checked her reflection out in the mirror. “The perfect princess fairy, I would say,” said Cecilia.
I watched as she embraced her daughter, wings and all, and felt the air rush through my ears. How could I be jealous of a little girl?

© Evelyn Rose 2013