Writers – Don’t Be the Party Guest From Hell

writer from hell

Have you read my latest book?

Most writers understand that social media is like a party. And despite many of us preferring to skewer our eyeballs with our quill pens rather than attend one, in our normal, non-writerly lives, we actually know how to behave at a party.

  1. You don’t stand at the door and scream “Here I am!”
  2. You don’t jump up and down in the middle on a pogo stick yelling “Please notice me, I’m nice! You’ll like me!”
  3. You don’t wear a T-shirt with your life story on it and hand out pamphlets containing all the bits that wouldn’t fit on the T-shirt.
  4. You do converse politely and ask questions without looking over someone’s shoulder to see if someone more important has arrived.

And so on.

Yet something happens to us when we morph into that terrifying creature – The Writer With a Book to Promote. All etiquette goes out of the window. We forget how to behave at parties and turn into the Guest from Hell. We squeeze mention of our beloved tome into every possible conversation, resulting in conversations like these:

Dialogue One

Innocent Normal Party Guest: Hi, I’m Susan, nice to meet you.

Writer Guest from Hell (WGFH): Did you say “meet”? OMG, “meet” is the third word from paragraph two of Chapter One of my shape shifting book “A Vampire Millionaire Ate My Gay Hamster”! You must be telepathic! Do you want to see? Here I’ve got a few copies, I’ll show you…

Dialogue Two:

Innocent Normal Party Guest: Hi, I’m Susan, nice to meet you.

WGFH: Hi Susan, my name is Fiona Cameron Tankard, also known as F.C.Tankard author of “One Tweet and I Was Gone – a Psychic Relates the Last Thoughts of Coal Miners’ Canaries” available on Amazon Kindle for just $1 this week only…

Dialogue Three:

Innocent Normal Party Guest: Hi, I’m Susan, nice to meet you. I’m a Scorpio, what about you?

WGFH: Scorpio – that’s like a scorpion, right? I think they’re found in the desert. Hey – if you add “s” to desert you get “dessert” – that’s amazing because I’ve written about desserts in my new book: “Teach Your Cat to Cook”.

Dialogue Four:

Innocent Normal Party Guest: Hi, I’m Susan, nice to meet you.

WGFH: Hi Susan, I’m Fiona, nice to meet you. I can’t help noticing you’re pregnant. What an amazing coincidence because I’ve just written a book called “Bat Keeping for Teens”. Do you want a copy? It might be useful in a few years when your little one is grown up and you get a bat. Or look, I’ll tell you what, it’s on Kindle, I can easily make some changes. Cross out “teens” put “babies”. I mean, the bats won’t know the difference. Susan? Hello? Where’s she gone?

Then there is the ultimate conversation between TWO Writer Guests From Hell. I use the term “conversation” in its loosest possible sense.

Dialogue Five:

WGFH 1: Hi, I’m Susan, author of “The Glittery Ghost of Tinsel Hill”. It’s number 1 on Amazon in the Sparkly Spooks for Singles Living in Latvia category. I can sign a copy for you if you like. I have a special pen.

WGFH 2: I have my own special pen, thank you very much, which I only use to autograph copies of my book “Detective ‘Red ‘Admiral and The Case of the Cursed Cocoon in the Crypt”. It too is an Amazon bestseller in the Lepidoptery Private Eye category, I’ll have you know!

The moral? Well, you’re not a half wit. At the party that is social media, be caring, be nice, be a good listener, be interesting and maybe, if you’re lucky – someone will ask you about your book. And if they do, only mention it once. OMG, did I just write “once”?   That’s amazing, because that’s almost an anagram of one of the characters I nearly included in my novel…

(Exit, pursued by a bare faced cheek)

Dear Mr Internet – I’m Sick of You!

OK, Mr Internet, I’ve just about had it with you. I know I may be biting the hand that feeds me, but you know what, sometimes you just really hack me off. So it’s time we had a talk, you and me.

What is it with the Facebook thing? Sometimes, I am so Facebooked-out I want to scream. And as for this new  ‘liking’ palaver, well, I just don’t want to do that any more. I’m not comfortable with it. I don’t want to ‘like’ any more Facebook pages from people I don’t know or  care about. OK?

Now as for Twitter. What were you thinking of? I don’t want to tell the world the minutiae of my life in sentence-sized bites. In fact, while we’re at it,  I don’t want to join any more social networks or hear about the latest hoops you have to jump through to get noticed online. Why can’t things just stay how they were? Maybe it’s time we had a break.

DSCN1908 (600 x 450) I’ve been here before, of course. I expect you remember, don’t you? I decide that I am never going to go online again. I will live a back to basics life and open an animal sanctuary in my garden, tend the vegetables and fruits in my thriving orto (that’s Italian for vegetable patch by the way) and spend my days writing poetry…

The trouble is, that I’m a crap gardener. You know that too of course,  judging by the number of times I have Googled how to grow stuff.  This summer  I have managed to produce just eight tomatoes in a plot the size of Tuscany. And we both understand all too well that I would go round the bend writing poetry.  I don’t think I have the stamina for an animal sanctuary as even my twice monthly stint volunteering at the  dog’s home wears me out. What to do, what to do?

Well, Mr Internet. Having walked around the garden and admired my one remaining tomato, I am going to give you another chance. I am going to remember what you were like at the beginning of our relationship – exciting, surprising, captivating. I am going to remind myself of all those presents you gave me – the chance to work from home, a virtual library at my fingertips, one or two really good new friends, the ability to connect with people all over the world.

I am going to gloss over your more recent shortcomings and get back to what attracted me to you in the first place. Good content, great stories. Never mind your flirtations with social media and your need to get bigger and better and have more, more, more. That’s just what you’re like. The bottom line is that you are good at heart. I know that. You help people connect. That’s good too.

So I will do my best to bear in mind your good points and not dwell on your ‘dark side’. OK?

As I am being so magnanimous I would appreciate some effort on your side too.  It’s not all one-way, you know. So if you can please send me lots of lovely visitors and nice comments, that would be really nice of you.

OK, it’s been good having this little talk . I know you probably won’t even read this as you’ll be off inventing something else to wind me up or adding more complex bits to your already wonderful self. But the bottom line is that I need you and you need me too.  I couldn’t live without you actually.

OK,  I think I’d better get back to work now. Thanks for listening.

Love Fionax