Let's start with the obvious: I'm a writer. Yes, I'm writing a blog, so here's the proof I can string a few coherent sentences together. I've also written for newspapers and magazines and produced a bunch of short stories years ago that I'm contemplating re-exposing to the light of day. My true passion is for longer work, though. I'm a novelist at heart. It takes more time, but it's the storytelling form that seems to work for me. If you haven't already, check out "The Official Private Eye Handbook", the first book in my City of Magick series.
Oh, my, blatant self-promotion! How crass. Well, it stems from the reason behind my even writing this blog at all. Let's face facts: if I'm a novelist, why isn't this a novel? Does Harlan Ellison have to tear himself away from his Olympia to resort to this? How about Grant Morrison? You bet they do. Why is Neil Gaiman unleashing Tweets to tell me what he's up to from day-to-day? Like any religion, if it wants to build up an audience, it's all about the marketing. That's why human sacrifice stopped figuring in at all the temple services: it's just not popular and you're dissolving your base of loyal followers.
Welcome to the 21st Century! Just as anyone who wants to make a video or produce music can make it available to the world via the internet, writers can do the same with any chain of words we choose to string together. Self-publishing is on the rise, but with that comes even more self-marketing. To put it another way: you can write whatever you like, but if you want anyone to know it exists for reading, you're going to have to find a way to tell a lot of people about it. Spreading the word and standing out in the crowd today means public speaking, promotional appearances, article writing, blogging, using the social networks and giving stuff away. The prize, should all go well of course, is creating sufficient commercial success to not have to engage in most of the marketing grind personally any longer. We do surround ourselves with delightful ironies to get us through, don't we?
So, along with the writing, an endeavor the aforementioned Mr. Ellison has described as one of the most difficult of human undertakings, this new age of independence has also saddled writers with the task of stimulating interest among potential readers. Unfortunately, that stimulation doesn't come by simply producing more writings. In order to sell the work and himself, essentially, the writer must engage in myriad supplementary tasks that have little if anything really to do with the work they want the world to take interest in consuming. I, for example, am writing you this blog about...this blog instead of working on "Murder at Wardenclyffe" (coming soon, be patient) and then "Fire and Blood". It's sad, but if I didn't, how would you ever know how much you desperately want to read it.
And here we are, taking part in an experiment to find out what it'll take to get the readers of the world to salute once I've run my flag up the pole. As always, whether I actually say it or not, thanks for your time and attention.