1) Writers are troubled people. Have sympathy.
No one likes to promote themselves. It's one of those things, like hemorrhoids and hair loss, that most of us will have to deal with but prefer not to discuss. (In "all" I, of course, exclude Ryan Seacrest and at least five Kardashian sisters.) But it is especially tough for writers: a species defined by our congenital habit of roaming urban enclaves with stooped backs, alternately developing variously decent ideas in coffee shops and crying into the closest gutter in fear that said ideas aren't good enough. (I know: I make it sound so bad. It is.)
2) Everyone needs a (shhh) platform.
And yet. We've all got to do it. The last time I spoke with a publishing professional, she whispered the word platform so cautiously it was as though she feared anyone overhearing might realize that writers have platforms for our own self-gain as opposed to that of starving Somalian refugees or Syrian freedom fighters. She told me that, in order to have a (shhh) platform, and more specifically, in order to ever have a book published by anyone other than Amazon or my 101-year old Jewish grandmother, I should have a website.
3) Boys who make websites are elusive.
So, I set to work heeding the professional's advice -- only to realize that the one guy I know who builds websites had a vague and fleeting interest in kissing me during the summer of 2010. At present, he would seem to have an even less focused interest in making me famous. Inconvenient.
4) Facebook pages are easy!
In the meantime, it occurred to me that I could build a page on Facebook for my blog. So easy! Import a couple pics, post a few links, and BOOM -- platform, here I come! Except, first, I realized, I would need to get people to "like" it. Which meant soliciting all of my Facebook friends -- about two-thirds of whom would be hard-pressed to name my ethnic background (the whole promoting through FB has crossed my mind before) -- to click a small button that says "like."
5) Because I said so.
So, really, why should you like my Facebook page? Here's the short answer: I have no idea. Here's the long one: so that I may feel like that much less of an untalented, unloved piece of shit for about two-eighths of a second. I'm not kidding! Each time I watch that number on the upper left side of my page tick up I heave a shallow sigh of gratification that one more person doesn't think I suck. In the next part of that second I contemplate the possibility that they are just being obedient and clicking "like" because I asked them to. But I blow past this notion rather quickly in order to focus my anxiety on the number of people who've clicked. I felt okay when I got up to 30 "likes." Fifty was alright, but by then I was already gunning for 100. Nah, I'd really like to push 150 by next week. Why, you ask, does it matter? Once again: no clue! I'm pretty sure there's no reward for achieving these numbers: no balloons will fall from my Albuquerque ceiling, embossed with the words, "You're Fabulous!" when I hit 150. I know Mark Zuckerberg isn't going to teleport from his Palo Alto lair to congratulate me for achieving an infitesmal fraction of his success if I ever nail that elusive 200 mark. Most importantly, I'm certain that, no matter how many people "like" my page, at no point will Michiko Kakutani materialize before me and pronounce that my book is so brilliant. Why am I so certain of this? Well, various reasons, including science. But mostly: because I am so preoccupied with building my (shhh) platform that I've hardly been working on my manuscript. Shit.
6) Because it will never be enough.
So, pretty sure that no number of "likes" will ever be satisfying: it is the writers' doom to go through life with an insecurity so profound as to be impenetrable by any number, publication or award. No matter now much recognition we receive, we will always need more. But still: those milliseconds, when you get another "fan" and feel, momentarily, like something less than a complete failure, are kind of cool. Soo... umm... I dunno...when you're done reading, maybe you wouldn't... mind... just... going over and, maybe, clicking "like" on my Facebook page?
Thanks! You're the best.
Follow Elizabeth Tannen on Twitter: www.twitter.com/odysseydater