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Island Life, Word Birds & Process #26

‘If one is to deal with people on a large scale,’ Virginia Woolf said, ‘and say what one thinks, how can one avoid melancholy?’

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‘Melancholy’ is laying it on a bit thick although I take her point. If I had a pound for every time I’ve held my fire on social media, I’d be that proverbially rich woman. And never mind melancholic, I’d be in state of permanent fury. Since I’ve been published, not saying what I think had become an unexpected thing for me.

It’s a conflict of interests, frankly.

Promoting oneself as a writer via social media is a good way to get noticed. I appreciate my responsibility to my book and to my wonderful publisher, and do the best I can. It’s a fine line though – however small your platform, it’s too easy to allow yourself to be enticed into controversy, which may possibly do your book no good at all.

In days of yore I was vocally political and a committed activist. (Feminism has a great deal to thank the second wave for. You’re welcome.) It’s a different world now and online I’m choosing to take a back seat. It doesn’t mean my heart isn’t still on raging fire.

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Where social media is concerned I keep my distance from controvosy and avoid saying what I really think a lot. Not that it matters – I may have had a book published, I’m not JK Rowling – who cares what I think anyway? Well, that’s the point – people do (often they’re weird people) and it’s easy to get caught up in all sorts of scary malarkey.

Forty-eight people subscribe to this blog. Small-fry in the big old blogosphere scheme of things, but in my world, that’s a lot of people reading what I have to say – about anything. I’m not far off nine hundred Twitter followers too. I like Twitter; it’s been good to me in terms of promoting Ghostbird even though I know I don’t use it to its fullest capacity. I can’t; I don’t have time. And to be honest, if I was on it like a leech, day after day, I’d get no work done and have nothing to promote anyway. Facebook is fun and most of the time I like it too. Thus far I’ve avoided anything contentious, and managed to extricate myself from the odd contretemps by being polite.

For a woman who likes the sound of her own voice, I’m a very private person. I keep 99% of my personal life to myself. And this is the nub of the thing. I don’t know if there’s a line, and if there is, where it is. I think we draw our own and as a writer, I choose to walk a relatively gentle one. I stick to posts about writing and swimming and the view from my aerie. Don’t be fooled though – my private face often has its eyes narrowed and its lips pursed in case a snarky, radical, barbed comment is required.

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‘If you surrender to the wind, you can ride it.’
~Toni Morrison

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