Authors behaving badly. I’ve often wondered if I’m one of them just by being “me”. I mean, it’s a choice between being yourself so your readers know exactly who you are, or putting on such a polished veneer that you come across as glossy but hard as wood. Zero personality. A good girl who always does as she’s told. I feel, when on my personal blogs or here at Four Strong Women, I can be myself. I curse. I say things I maybe shouldn’t. I probably sound crass, uneducated, common, or whatever else some people might want to call me. But hell, I’m a human being first and foremost, a person who has tried acting the mega professional and found it a miserable, crummy existence. It was boring. Confining. Being myself is infinitely better. I’m comfortable blogging here, knowing I can say whatever I like, and the pals I share this blog with, and hopefully our dear readers, know to take me as they find me.
Okay, I’ve blogged about a couple of things that some may feel had me walking very close to that fine line that no one seems to be able to see—but we all know it exists. The ones that spring to mind are either not getting paid royalties or getting low royalties. Is there some unspoken rule I’m unaware of here? I don’t recall ever signing anything that made me promise never to say I didn’t get paid much last quarter. Am I meant to keep quiet about low sales or a publisher who hasn’t paid me in months, despite me knowing damn well I’ve made them money in one form or another? These subjects are a big part of my life, so talking about them comes naturally. I’m not in any way saying my publishers are to blame for low sales. Shit, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m awful at promotion.
I had many responses on my Sarah Masters blog regarding the topic of people thinking you’re raking in the cash as soon as you’re published. It’s a bloody myth for most of us, and not a subject to sweep under the carpet and pretend isn’t happening either. There are many things I could talk about but I don’t. Some things ARE best left unsaid, and I keep those to myself or chat about it with my husband. But I do get a little tired of talk about this invisible line we’re not meant to cross, even though I totally understand it at the same time. Going out there in public moaning about certain things doesn’t do you a jot of good (shit, I’m so fucked!). As the saying goes in Romanceland: You’re being watched.
Yes, we’re all aware we may be being watched, but to be honest, the thought of that is downright creepy sometimes. People lurking online reading your posts and forming an opinion of you that may not necessarily be who you really are, then possibly penalising you for it without you even knowing. As an example, let’s say I wrote a post complaining that I’d had a kerfuffle with a cover artist. (I most certainly haven’t, by the way.) Let’s pretend I’m unhappy with my cover, detest it, in fact, and asked if I could have a few changes made. Publisher said no. Their word is final. Fine, except...what if I want to talk about my feelings on the subject? I have a choice here. To blog about it, mentioning no names, and express how I felt, or to keep quiet so that the lurkers won’t see what I’ve written, and then decide that I’m a diva who must be avoided at all costs. No contract for YOU, missus. You’re on our blacklist. (And is there even one of those, hmmm? Do all publishers REALLY talk to one another? I’ve worked for a few, and I’d say this isn’t the case.)
I’m not a diva, though, but it could be construed that I am if I blogged about the cover scenario, yet all I wanted to do was write down a few thoughts and have feedback from others in my situation.
It’s an interesting subject for sure. How much personal information/emotion is too much? How much of “you” should you put in your posts? We all know that very personal information isn’t the done thing—and whoops, I’ve crossed the line there too. Ran the hell over it, very deep into “I mustn’t blog about this” territory with my post about dyeing pubic hairs. That post may well have sealed my coffin. If I submit to a publisher and they find that post, read it, and deem it distasteful, which it is to some, I may get a rejection based on that. Sod whether my writing was all right. I blogged about a taboo subject, so therefore I mustn’t be offered a contract.
It was my decision whether to blog about it. I had to decide whether our readers could handle such a subject, and to be quite honest, I think you all can. You realise us Four Strong Women need a place to be open and talk about whatever the frick we like. And hey, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that with the amount of comments we get, others feel the same way we do about the subjects we cover.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that this place here, this blog, is my version of the water cooler in an office. We shoot the shit here, discuss things we wouldn’t while sitting at our desks where our employers can see us—and yeeeeees, I know my "employers" can see me here too, but I feel my employers, or, let’s just get it right out there, my publishers, realise this is my place to waffle about crap. I haven’t named them in anything negative I’ve said, and there is only one publisher I’m unhappy with anyway, and that involves something crimson that grows in a garden.
See, even by me saying that I’ve either come close to the line or crossed over it. When I’m writing my posts, I’m constantly aware of being watched. So that leads me to the crux of what’s bugging the fuck out of me.
I’m sick and tired of being someone I’m not. Always editing my posts so What’sherface isn’t unhappy, or Thingamibob isn’t made to frown and decides to “keep a close eye” on me, or Jane bloody Doe is shaking her head wondering how someone with such good manners in private emails can be so…yuk on a public blog.
I do know how to behave in a professional manner. I just don’t always do that here, as is my right.
How do you feel about always having to watch what you say/write? Do you feel restricted, surrounded by rules—invisible rules at that? Do you ever want to just break out and type what was on your mind and fuck what anyone thinks? Have you? What were the consequences, if any?