In last month’s blog I reviewed Joanne Fedler’s new book Love in the Time of Contempt which will be launched at the BOOK LOUNGE, my favourite bookshop in Cape Town, on 17 March. I cannot wait to have the real book in my hands, you know, the one that smells and feels like the real thing that you can flip backwards and forwards between pages because you need to remind yourself of something that was written a few pages back. And maybe even underline it or flag it.
I mentioned in the review that, among many other things I loved in the book, I have unilaterally adopted her ABC ( Always be Connecting, as in, connecting with teenagers ) as my ABC though I have no illusions of my hit rate here. I mean, we all know in our heart of hearts that what teenagers want most from us, is to disconnect and disengage and distance themselves. Why? Because apparently we don’t “get them” anyway or have no clue what they’re feeling and even if we try to, we must really just “get a life” which is cruelly ironic since I think of all the challenges I have faced with parenting thus far, I spend much of my time trying to bloody well find my own life. So, in some ways, I’m quite certain that if we just maybe disconnected for awhile, we would all be a damn site happier.
But I don’t care. I’m gonna keep trying to learn the ABC and will NOT be thwarted in my attempts to hang onto them for as long as I can. I mean, in the time since I wrote that review and now, I have another little offspring who is suddenly knocking on the teen door, teetering on the edge of those terrifying teenage years, hanging on to the last of her so-called “golden years”, supposedly from 8- 12 years old. So I have no choice but to keep practicing my ABC every day if I am ever to master the art of love in the time of contempt.
But then today I come across another ABC type thing, though this time in relation to my own tireless efforts in trying to read everything everyone who calls themselves a writer has to say about, yip , you guessed …writing! The writer (Richard Ridley , an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor) offers the following valuable advice dotted with a few new acronyms, this time, ABW and ABM and ABI. I can tell you one thing, you have to be pretty sussed in this day and age and I’m not even talking social media lingo. At the institution where I lecture, everyone is referred to as an HOD or ADC or ICC or IIE and at this rate, I’m convinced that soon I will be referred to as an ABN – another bloody nutter! Cos we all know that you have to be slightly daft to want to be a writer , and a non-fiction one at that. I mean just today, a friend looked at me quite quizzically on the subject of my book which she had heard about and said, looking quite perplexed, “But why would you want to expose yourself in public like that?”
And its not that I haven’t had the very same thought myself- hell, a million and one times- but then I have come to understand that in very general terms, most of what we write comes from a personal space and a personal experience and that even fictional characters are really blended forms of you, despite the disguises. Truly they are. In the first few pages of J C Kannemeyer’s incredible treatise on JM Coetzee: A life in writing, he quotes J M Coetzee as having said that “all the writings of an author, including his literary criticism are autobiographical …”.
And anyway, hasn’t social media put pay to the theory that we all want privacy because I have never seen people exposing themselves as they do in all that they reveal on that FB forum: pictures, thoughts, anecdotes, whatever, all of which are a dead giveaway most of the time. It’s something I have become so conflicted over , this FB thing and all that it represents, despite the real bonus of connecting with people you really want to and who don’t just live down the road.
But anyway, here’s the list of Richard Riley’s AB somethings I read about and wanted to share with you. (With apologies for the odd added commentary, Richard!)
1, ABW – Always Be Writing: If you want to get noticed, you have to have a track record in today’s publishing world. One book will most likely not help you gain widespread notoriety. You need multiple books to create an author brand that will get you noticed and bring in the sales.
(Yes, nice advice but you have to start with one don’t you?)
2. ABM – Always Be Marketing: You can’t have books on the market today without an author platform. A platform is simply your online presence. That presence in today’s digital age includes your own website/blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. And this presence requires you to be present in order for it to be effective. Contribute to your online presence multiple times a day. (Preferably not when driving your kids around or doing homework or trying to “always be connecting” with the teenagers though this may have to occur if all such activity assumes about more than half of your waking hours)
3. ABI – Always Be Interacting: When you have your platform up and running, your readers are going to reach out to you. Don’t ignore them. Interact with them. Let them know how appreciative you are for their support. The more you connect with them, the greater the support they’ll give you. ( Super advice but sometimes they are only readers apparently and don’t comment which makes them tricky to identify and connect with but, yes, it certainly makes sense)
And after all of this, one must surely understand that the average new author is confused about exactly how to find the time or energy to be writing the next book. It certainly bothers me.
But I wanted to share this with you because I wanted you to know, whoever you are, that I am appreciative of the fact that you found me on this blog, And I want to apologise upfront if, even though I’m prompted to check out your post because you have liked mine, that I don’t because I sometimes don’t even remember how to log into my own posts ! ( That password thing remember?- see past blog) and also that really I am trying very hard to focus on another piece of writing which really won’t be benefitted at all from any interactions here and is in fact suffering because I am connecting here.
Be that as it may, I will still try to connect. Once a month. At least. About something. I hope. Bye for now.