Professionalism, or Bullshittery?
Posted by Alan Edwards
In a short period of time, say the last three weeks or so, I’ve “met” a ton of other writers, self-pubbed and trad-pubbed, through different social media outlets. It’s been an amazing experience. I’ve learned a lot about all kinds of different aspects of writing and publishing, from marketing to cover design to editing and pretty much you-name-it. One little piece of advice I’ve read a few times lately regards an author’s website. The advice stresses that the website must be professional, especially for a self-pubber, since it is an effort to convince anyone who might see it that you are a Serious Writer.
On one hand, that makes sense to me. A well designed, clean website (like, say, this one) conveys a sense of professionalism and maturity, especially compared to the site with the black background and flashing lights and cursor trails that makes farting noises every time you scroll up and down. A well-ordered place with links to read about the author, peruse their works, see some reviews, maybe get a free excerpt or sample – I can definitely see the advantage of a site like this. Hell, it would make me feel more authorly to have one. I’d start wearing tweed jackets and smoking a pipe and looking distantly to some point on the horizon just in case someone happens by to take a black-and-white photo.
Instead, I have this site. It’s the only website I maintain or do anything with (except my Facebook author page, which hardly counts and no one goes to anyway). Sometimes on here, I make semi-serious posts about serious writerly subjects, trying to express a viewpoint that maybe someone somewhere will find valuable and help them along in their own journey, as a way for me to thank all the people who have helped me along the way and also as a way to try to con people into thinking I’m a super nice guy when in reality I’m the small mean bitter person I always joke about being.
Other times, I write about a lot of other shit. Hate-fueled rages. Restaurant reviews. Exercise DVD reviews (Fun Fact: I’ve written novels, short stories, all kinds of shit. The #1 thing that people have read of mine? A Bob Harper DVD review. Seriously. It’s been read 2,474 times as of this morning. #2? Another exercise DVD review with over 1,200 views. I usually get anywhere from 60 to 100 views a day. 75% of them are people reading my old DVD reviews. My top 3 exercise reviews have more views than every other blog post I’ve ever written combined. That’s cool on one hand. It’s also immensely depressing.). This place is a depository for whatever random-ass thought takes my fancy, from what weapons I want during a zombie apocalypse to a gripping 5-post series about visiting a farm.
In other words, it’s not professional. Neither is my language, honestly. Some of the posts on here could be inserted into a Tarantino movie without a diminution of the fuck-per-minute rating. I express strong opinions about things that would offend a shit-ton of people if anyone ever bothered to read them (which isn’t exactly likely to happen; sifting through blog archives is the last resort of the terminally bored). This site does not show others that I am a professional writer Who Takes Writing Seriously.
Well, we’ll get back to that point in a moment.
So I find myself at a crossroads. Do I clean this place up, get rid of the offensive material, focus my topics on things that a Serious Writer Who Takes Writing Seriously would talk about, tone down the f-bombs, and present myself as the shiny squeaky-clean ambassador of my writing that I’m advised to be? Or do I leave this place as is?
The thing is, I like my blog. Sometimes it’s funny, but I can be a really shitty judge about that. I do try to make even my exercise DVD reviews entertaining. I get to rant and rave and cuss and say whatever comes across the part of my mind that isn’t interested in marketing myself and pushing Product. See, and this is very important to me, I want you, the person who’s reading this, to feel like we’re sitting together on a deck or porch or table or whatever somewhere, a drink of choice in hand (I like rum, personally, although I don’t turn my nose up at much except gin), smoking a cigarette, and just bullshitting. I can’t do it in real life with all of you (except the indulgent Lady Aravan, of course) so this is as close as I can get. This is me. Actually, this is better than me, because in real life I can get shy and not talk or get afraid to say things (and that’s where the drinks come in, when my inner Game Show Host can come out). I like this.
And as for Taking Writing Seriously. Well. I defy anyone to read this blog and come away that I don’t take it seriously. I take writing as seriously as it needs to be taken. Sometimes that means not at all. Because writing is an expression of one singular person’s perceptions of the universe and how fucked up it is or how amazing it is or how awesome it used to be or how mind-blowing it’s going to be in the future. Sometimes that’s really fucking serious. Other times, serious is the last thing it needs to be. There is a lot of serious shit out there that people want to turn away from, to put a wall up against, and reading is that thing for an awful lot of people. Writing doesn’t need to be Serious, and neither does a writer.
I do see both sides, I really do. I want to be taken seriously as a writer who doesn’t take himself or the world very seriously. Tough row to hoe.
I think, in the end, this blog stays the way it is. I’d go crazy otherwise. Maybe someday in the future, when I’m not as lazy and feel like dealing with shit like domains and HTML and web design or just throwing money at it and hoping for the best, I’ll make a site that’s clean and pristine, professional and Serious, a platform as I build my Global Image. It’s the smart thing to do. I see others’ web sites and I feel small and envious. Until then, this will be the best I can do.
Christ, it isn’t like you care anyway. I know why you’re here. The exercise reviews are here. Enjoy!