On Writing…and Promotion

An “inciting incident” recently happened to me. I was involved in a discussion about blogs and self-promotion. It seemed to me that some view blogs purely as self-promotion. And self-promotion = evil.

It (like many things) got me thinkin.

I’m a writer. There are many of us out there. So, when I say “I” or “me” I’m not saying I’m anyone special, I’m just making the discussion more personal. I’m pretty sure what I’m about to discuss is true for many writers out there, so don’t take offense that “I’m so special” and you’re not. Other thing is I can’t speak for anyone else out there, so I’m speaking for myself; how I feel, how I am. As contradictory as this may sound, it’s all I can do, right (pardon the pun)?

I write.

I love writing.

I truly feel all writing helps all writing (as I’ve put in my signature block). I love the long and short forms. In one, you get to the point quicker, in the other, ya got all day. Blogging is but another form of writing. It’s immediate, punchy, timely. Instantly global (and how cool is that?). Both a good and bad point, it doesn’t have to go through an additional editor. It’s simply another writing “mechanic” (I’d use “platform,” but in the writing world that has a different connotation).

It’s fun.

I write because I feel the innate need to communicate. I don’t need to explain this, it just is.

Painters paint.

Actors act.

Readers read.

Writers write.

I love the written expression. Have always reveled and been excited about seeing a blank page…and that I was about to give it life. Make it come to life with words. I love the form (sentences, paragraphs, white space) words take on paper or a screen. The images they conjure. I enjoy wordplay. Love reading. To write helps clarify my own thoughts, my life. To write helps others experiencing similar issues, but who are unable to quantify, categorize, or internalize said issues, and therefore to understand their issues through me. To write imparts knowledge. To write is to question. To write entertains. To write is to mess around with the imagination. To write…is to express one’s soul. Writing is many things to many people, especially those with far more intense issues than my little world. Writing to these individuals is…

Salvation.

Sanity.

Release.

But, for me, it’s what I do, and I do a lot of it. Every day. I truly enjoy it.

Promotion.

Such an ugly word to many.

Now, I don’t know who coined the phrase (which I personally find funny and actually kinda like), but I find it does more harm than good: “shameless self-promotion.”

In this “inciting incident” mentioned earlier, “shameless self-promotion” and “blog” were associated with each other in a less-than-honorable manner. Now, I don’t know if people really can distinguish between self-promotion and honest communication (or they just don’t trust anyone), or if they just use the aforementioned phrase to look down on those who do blog–I can’t speak for them, as I said–but I can say that I get annoyed when I hear “shameless self-promotion” constantly levied at blogs and bloggers.

Where’s the evil?

If, as also pointed out earlier, writers write, and blogging is merely another avenue for writerly output, where’s the harm? Where’s the finger-pointing ethical issue with a writer writing a blog and sharing that information with the world? Because, if writers write, and readers read, writing is meant to be read. You just can’t get around this.

Self-promotion. Shameless self-promotion.

I have news for those who equate blogging with “shameless self-promotion”: You are shameless self-promotion.

Everything you do promotes YOU.

When you open your mouth, type an e-mail, or smile or not smile at another human being, you are promoting yourself.

When you comment or give attitude to another, you promote yourself.

When you talk behind another’s back, you promote yourself.

When you help out a stranger, you promote yourself.

How you promote yourself, promotes yourself.

You really wanna talk so-called “shameless self-promotion”?

When you push your book or short story, you totally promote yourself.

That’s shameless self-promotion. And it should be shameless.

Promote:  “to help or encourage to exist or flourish; further”; “to encourage the sales, acceptance, etc., of (a product), esp. through advertising or other publicity.” Courtesy of The Random House Dictionary of the English Language, Second Edition, Unabridged.

Shameless:  “lacking any sense of shame: immodest; audacious,” and “shame” defined as “the painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonorable, improper, ridiculous.” Also courtesy of The Random House Dictionary of the English Language, Second Edition, Unabridged.

So…why should someone feel shame when talking about their “honest communication”? Talking about something near and dear to their souls? For the most part, promotion in and of itself is not a bad thing. Sure, it makes a difference in the venue and with how one expresses it, but to blog–in and of itself, in its arena-of-pertinence, to write as a writer–where’s the issue? Again, I can’t speak for or to everyone else out there in Internetland, but to writers, I think I can come pretty darned close.

Writers write.

Readers read.

How you present yourself every moment of your life promotes who you are.

If you’re a writer, write.

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About fpdorchak

Paranormal fiction author.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized, Writing. Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to On Writing…and Promotion

  1. Karen Lin says:

    Frank, you are never one to mince words….shame on you! 🙂 Karen

  2. fpdorchak says:

    :-]

    I’m not trying to be belligerent, but sometimes you have to just grab the things that get under your skin by the horns and examine them. I CAN see how blogging can appear to be purely self-promotional (not always a bad thing), but I feel a fundamental issue has been ovelooked.

  3. Frank, I love reading your blog because you’re er—a writer 😉 There’s such a fine line here. I’ll play the opposing view here, because as you may or may not know I’m on two joint blogs. While the promote me occasionally, they mostly promote other people, which ideally is a win/win situation.

    Now back to my thinkin’. (Don’t faint ;)) Unless he’s Van Gogh and consumed by madness, painters don’t usually paint images of themselves. Actors don’t play themselves, they get into character. Readers read to escape. And THERE’s where writers cross the line. To much look at me, look at me, is just plain annoying.

    Always look forward to your thoughts, sir.

  4. fpdorchak says:

    Donnell!

    First, thank you, and always good to hear from you, too! :-]

    Discussion is great (and I do know you’re “elsewhere” in Internetland)! Maybe I’ve missed a point, so someone can point it out and I can further refine my position/thoughts!

    I never require that anyone agree with me or my opinions (though I am known to be kinda, well, intense at times–but it’s only because I’m passionate about what I believe in!), I only ask that one THINK and CONSIDER. As mentioned in my rant, there are always the venues and methods of expression to be considered. No, all levels of behavior are not apropos everywhere. I think most people can tell when someone is doing a “Look at me, World!” But in the discussion of WRITERS, writers write, to belabor the point. So why wouldn’t one blog? And if a writers’ venue exists wherein which one can post writing (aka “blogs”) why shouldn’t such activity be expressed? Whatever else it is, blogging is still writing. Now, since you brought up joint blogs, and for the sake of argument, let’s say that you’re referring to writers who blog on said joint blogs and constantly point to themselves. This was not what I was really getting at in my rant, I was actually only referring to the “shameless self-promotion” statement as applied to blogging in general, and another follow-on comment that continued to perpetuate the same ill-considered line of thought toward bloggers, and that this was considered “obvious.” That’s what I was addressing. I wasn’t addressing blogging in any joint endeavors, though my point may be shaved somewhat “fine,” here. But I did mention the “Sure, it makes a difference in the venue and with how one expresses it….”

    I think listing off what you did above about painters, actors, and readers is rather limiting–and who are we to limit the inherent “is-ness” of any item in question? People do things for many reasons, not just the obvious ones.

    Painters do paint themselves, Rembrandt also comes to mind (and why wouldn’t a painter paint themselves?). Apply all I’ve said above to painters. It’s what they do, and they are inherently part of and absolutely critical to the very ACT of painting, about which there would be NO painting without them! Many actors have also played themselves, look at cameos of actors who play themselves in all sorts of movies, and not the least of which is John Malkovich who starred in a movie that sported his very name in the title! And as to readers reading to escape? Donnell, many read for research and editing, to name a couple counterpoints. Hardly escapist fare, I’m sorry to say. :-\

    The point is, please don’t make blanket statements and generalizations!

    What’s “obvious” to one, may be patently false to another.

    If you’re, as you referred to, in a joint blog (or anything else “joint”), and you get someone annoyingly pointing to themselves all the time, you handle them on an individual basis. You or the moderator counsel the individual. If said offending behavior continues, you banish said individual. But if one is simply employing sound, “honest communication”…where’s the harm? Can’t you (or anyone else, for that matter) tell the difference? If you don’t wanna read something, then don’t. Simple, right? And that goes for everything else in life: that which offends thee, turn away.

    This help better clarify my position?

    • Hmmm, Frank 😉 As a blogger myself, I *think* we’re of the same opinion. It’s the blogs that say buy my book or this is all about me that I veer away from. If a blogger (and generally you do, or I wouldn’t check back) has something insightful to say, worthy of reading, I guess, true it’s self-promotion, but not nearly as overt. I read blogs to learn and to think and to entertain. If the blogger appears to have only one reason for blogging, I’ll pass. Your blogs have made me laugh and think and even forward. Have a great day.

      • fpdorchak says:

        Whew!

        I tend to run long, sometimes, but, yes, I think we’re on the same page. :-] There is an art to good promotion, but how we behave moment to moment promotes who we are…for good or bad. Thanks, again, for your kind words. Your blog is also on my reading list!

        Thanks for stopping by, Donnell, and for helping me better clarify my position!

  5. Ron H says:

    I have heard (OK, read) the word ‘joint’ so many times since I left Boulder in 1972. I agree, Frank, that every danged word we write is self-promotion of some kind. When we try to get a waiter to understand our order cannot contain anything that will kill us no matter what he thinks about us just “not liking” something — hmmm…. I digress… I got self-promotion and self-PRESERVATION mixed up. Dang. I hate when I do that.

    But maybe I’ll continue that story in MY NEW BOOK you’ll be able to by someday at SeemsFree (Ain’t Nobody Cheaper).

    To the illustrious Ms. Bell’s point, there is a fine line between writing for yourself, and writing for an audience. Most artists do paint, draw, chisel themselves, but not all of those images make it into the public eye.

    Every actor I’ve known in my lifetime spends at least a percentage of every week reciting lines into a mirror. But those moments (OK, unless you’re dating one of those get-out-of-low-slung-sportscars-in-commando-mode bimbos those mirror sessions don’t get video taped and passed along to TMZ.

    The internet, and technology have brought myriad wonders and amazements to the world. But it has also opened the floodgates to billions of words and phrases that perhaps should have never experience byte-intercourse.

    The things that get under my skin, BTW, don’t have horns but they do have HUGE FREAKING TEETH! (but I digress…)

    Writers write. Readers choose.

    Then again, to “Ban the Blog” because a post or phrase MIGHT be self-promotional, SHAMELESSLY self-promotional, or (heaven forbid) BLATANTLY self-promotional, is like — turning off John Lennon because you didn’t like his haircut.

    That, in writing parlance, is known as “coming full circle.”

    B^)

  6. Chris Devlin says:

    Frank,
    I think a writer’s blog can be both shameless self-promotion and about self-expression. (I use “shameless” self-promotion a little wryly here.) I don’t think either is a bad thing. Of course a lot of writers start blogs and get on FB and Twitter primarily to promote themselves as writers. A lot of people are on new media to promote their products in other fields as well. A writer’s blog does uniquely promote their writing style even when they’re talking about what they had for breakfast that morning.

    I’m not sure why the detractors you’re referring to find fault with that. I think the point is not to be obnoxious about it and not to self-promote to the exclusion of all else.

    • fpdorchak says:

      All true, Chris. I was also trying to illustrate that there are other more important issues to worry about, as in how one handles themselves moment-to-moment, in every day life, HOW one promotes themselves, rather than criticizing writers who blog in a less-than-honorable light. Like Ron says, some things just shouldn’t see the light of day, but here I’m specifically refering to writers, those who–theoretically–have a better handle over their superpower of word slinging than the average bear. Those who have a particular CALLING to communication. People do things for many, sometimes unfathomable reasons; sometimes its obvious, sometimes not. But a writer writes, so how can blogging be held against them? And writing needs to be read–and, therefore, promoted–so where’s the harm in self-promotion? It just doesn’t make sense to me!

      Thanks for stopping by, all! Great discussion!

  7. I know, I’m late to the party.

    Feels like high school sometimes out there in the writing/blogging world. If a person has enough confidence to walk the halls with a smile, they are destined to be picked on by someone who doesn’t have what it takes and is afraid of those who do.

    Just wanted to come in, toss you a high-five, grab some dip n’ chips and be on my way 🙂

    ~tiffany
    http://bit.ly/NakedEditorFictionWritingBlog

  8. fpdorchak says:

    Not a problem, and thanks, Tiffany, for stopping by! I really do appreciate your support and that you took the time out of YOUR busy life to search this post out–“late to the party or not.” :-]

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