What does it take?

"If I could I would always work in silence and obscurity, and let my efforts be known by their results." Emily Brontë. How would she view the cyber arena of writing?

Word count: 374   Reading time 1-2 minutes

The internet has moved the goalposts for 21st century writers. Now, among other things, we are now supposed to:

  • Read a lot.
  • Write a lot.
  • Write a mission statement.
  • Join a writers’ group (for fellowship)
  • Join a critique group (for feedback).
  • Take courses.
  • Join a book club. At least one.
  • Attend writing conferences and festivals.
  • Build a platform, a brand: blog, tweet, join facebook, LinkedIn, read other blogs, comment on other blogs.  
  • Build a professional bio.
  • Be camera friendly.
  • Pitch books in live situations or, at the very least, start the bruising process of querying agents and publishers.

After the book deal:

  • Teach or mentor other writers.
  • Organize a book launch.
  • Organize appearances and book signings.
  • Visit booksellers and book buyers.
  • Organize a book tour.
  • Start again at the top of the list.

While these suggestions only scrape the surface of the recommendations I’ve found, this list, even in its pared-down form, triggers a breathless claustrophobia in me. It doesn’t seem to leave a lot of room for the two essentials of writing and reading. What are the choices? Few, as far as I can tell, so I pick and choose the things that I hope will build a robust writing career.

Still, that list makes me wonder how the 20th Century’s five most reclusive writers would fare if they were to publish their books today. Georgette Heyer, who sold her first book at age 17 and wrote 55 more over the next 50 years, granted only one interview in her entire life. Would she have flopped in the cyber age?

In the end, as interesting as it to compare the current writing world to days gone by, it’s best not to spend too much time thinking about it. As L.P. Hartley said, “The past is a foreign place. They do things differently there.”

What are you doing to build your writing career? Are all these things simply too much for one person? How do you choose and what do you choose?

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Photo from Wikimedia commons, Dan English