The Writer as Influencer
November 23, 2019 6:14 PM   Subscribe

But the image management that once seemed incidental, or at least parallel, to the literary profession seems now one of its most necessary, integral functions. In the age of Twitter and Instagram, an online presence, which is necessarily public and necessarily consumable, seems all but mandatory for a writer who reaches (or hopes to reach) a certain level of renown, especially for anyone dealing in personal essays or cultural criticism. In the way that the influencer uses her image to sell her swag, the writer leverages her life to sell her work, to editors and audiences.
posted by storytam (7 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
This is how we get to a future like The Moon Moth. I know most folks see Black Mirror's,"Nosedive," but that is clearly just a transitional stage. Once we realize that the only way to have a sense of privacy is to wear masks in public for our social interactions and thus impart to the masks all that ranking and influence Jack Vance will be seen as the prophet he never intended to be.
posted by Ignorantsavage at 8:40 PM on November 23, 2019 [3 favorites]

i'm so glad i became an established writer before the social media era...
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 12:33 AM on November 24, 2019 [2 favorites]

It's all just content creation now.
posted by Morpeth at 3:23 AM on November 24, 2019

It's all just content creation now.

Not only is the author not dead, they are live-tweeting or whatever.
posted by badbobbycase at 7:57 AM on November 24, 2019

Some good bits in this piece but on the whole I think the participation in the "literary profession" (as a mode of existence distinct from "writing") has always entailed elaborate displays of access & social prowess, from the 18th century French salons to the real & mythologized entourages of auteurs like DFW or Sylvia Plath. I've always understood this glamourous exposure right at the edge of celebrity culture to be part and parcel of the allure of the "literary profession". If the light's too bright, maybe step aside? Tangentially related, by Emmeline Clein:
The characters of Sex and the City and Girls [...] belong to a subset of women who undeniably have it much easier than most. They are white, attractive, have a certain amount of class privilege, and are intelligent and witty. As Shannon Keating put [...] what is most “dispiriting” about the “swirling conversation around women’s loneliness and fragility and heartache and unhappiness” is that it revolves around women “with the whole world at their feet.” Rebecca Liu pointed out a similar trend in the “archetypal Young Millennial Woman” of Girls, Fleabag, and Sally Rooney novels, writing that this woman is “pretty, white, cisgender, and tortured enough to be interesting but not enough to be repulsive. Often described as relatable, she is, in actuality, not.”
posted by dmh at 8:18 AM on November 24, 2019 [3 favorites]

I worry about this a lot. Although my online personae are not completely firewalled from my real self--the internet cannot keep secrets so well--I almost never write or post publicly as myself. And my professional persona is very quiet because I am, when it comes to it, intensely private. This may not make sense. If you look at my comments, you will find any amount of chatter about embarrassing nonsense, and I would own up to it in public if presented therewith. It isn't merely that I'm shy, although I am. It's that my actual self is not marketable.

See how she describes Cat Marnell and other current women writers--she speaks as if they're characters. Not writers, but written beings. Making yourself appear to be one is a talent, and I don't have it. I must go on as I am anyway.
posted by Countess Elena at 11:55 AM on November 24, 2019 [4 favorites]

“What's any artist, but the dregs of his work? the human shambles that follows it around. What's left of the man when the work's done but a shambles of apology.” --William Gaddis, The Recognitions
posted by chavenet at 2:52 PM on November 24, 2019 [1 favorite]

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