When I first got the internet in 2007, I embraced it as if it were a wonderful new friend. At the time, my mother was dying and my life mate/soul mate was sick. There was nothing I could do about either of those circumstances, and the internet gave me a place to escape from my real life.
The terrible times continued. My mother died, then three years later, my soul mate died, and one of the few ways I could escape from the grief was to spend time online. (Screaming also helped alleviate the grief, but being online was so much easier on my throat.) I moderated writing groups, connected to thousands of people, dived headfirst into blogging. I used a couple of my blogs to promote other authors because . . . well, because the blogs were there and it seemed like the right thing to do.
Several unsettling incidents happened recently that made me rethink what I’m doing online. These incidents didn’t amount to much. A contretemps over an excerpt someone wanted me to post. The discovery that a terrible writer I know who writes awful books is making a fortune. A discussion about talent vs. persistence (most writers seem to believe that talent is more important, which disheartens me — are writers really so arrogant in their belief of their talent?). Just trivial things, but they got to me more than they should have, and it suddenly dawned on me that if I turned off my computer, these things don’t exist.
The truth is, except for this blog, I’m not having any fun online. I seem to have fallen into an alternate universe of self-published writers. I’m even getting known as a promoter of self-published writers, but I find this new world of publishing very discouraging. Many of the excerpts I post on my blog are not well written or are excerpts from books I’d never read if they were the last books left on this earth. And that’s saying a lot since once I read everything that fell into my hands. So why am I promoting such books? I no longer know.
It used to be that self-published writers were iconoclasts, following a dream at any cost. Now so many self-published writers are conformists, following a dream at no cost. Even worse, they are a militant lot, demanding regard for no apparent reason. I have become friends with numerous self-published writers in an online sort of way, and I know that many are good at the craft and strive to get better, but just as many self-publishers dash out a book in a month (sometimes even in a week) and expect to be taken seriously.
To be honest, I have no regard for most of the authors published by the big six, either, so this isn’t a self-published vs. traditional-published discussion. It’s about me. I am not self-published, though many people assume I am (guilt by association). Nor am I published by a major publishing company. Authors who were published by small independent presses used to called “indie authors” but self-publishers have adopted that name for themselves, so now there is no name for us.
In my case, it no longer matters what kind of author I am since I am not writing much fiction. Being around so much bad writing and so many self-aggrandizing writers has stifled any urge I might have to contribute words of my own.
So, to save my sanity, I’ve decided to escape from my online life. I’m going to keep up this blog, of course, but I’ll be cutting back on other online activities, especially those that involve promoting authors I don’t know and don’t like.
This resolution isn’t accidental — I’ve been giving a lot of thought to where I want to go with my online life. What’s accidental is the timing. What was supposed to be simply a resolution has accidentally become a New Years resolution.
Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+