After reading Kelly’s post from last week, it got me thinking about a similar topic that comes up in the lives of creative women — marketing ourselves. I’ve been to a couple of writer’s conferences now, and every one has stressed the importance of having a presence — taking advantage of any and all social networking opportunities, becoming active in the writing community at large, and creating an identity in cyberspace. Then in this month’s Writer’s Digest, six pages are devoted to Christina Katz’s article on building a “power platform.” A strong platform, Katz says, includes an author’s Web presence, classes taught, media contacts, articles published, public speaking services, and any other means available to make an author’s name known.
Lately, I’ve also become much more aware of where my name is and what it’s attached to. I Google myself periodically (am I the only one who does this?), so I know that my name is attached to my master’s thesis, the three playwriting awards I’ve won, and blog posts about my novel-in-progress. But my name is not attached to any short stories or poetry, and this frustrates me. I’m frustrated because while these aren’t my favorite forms of writing, I feel quite confident that if I just put my mind to it, I could write both, and write them well. Then I could submit them to literary magazines and develop the “street cred” that eludes unpublished novelists and playwrights.
The South Carolina Writer’s Workshop is the main literary arts organization in South Carolina. They put on the yearly writer’s conference, sponsor the Carrie McCray Memorial Literary Awards, and publish the Petigru Review, a literary anthology. I’ve joined the organization, attended conferences, and won two Carrie McCray awards. All that’s left is being published in the Petigru Review, at which point, in my own mind, I will have achieved state of South Carolina superstardom.
The deadline for submissions is April 30, and a week ago, when I got the last reminder e-mail, I thought to myself, “Oh, easy peezy. I can whip up a couple of submissions. How hard can it be?”
Oh Lord, please deliver me from my unfailing optimism…
I started re-working the Sam/Squirrel story for a nice nonfiction piece, but it’s still incomplete because 1) I’ve never written any kind of nonfiction before and it was stressing me out and 2) I got this truly compulsive desire to write a poem about a diphtheria epidemic that killed two of my great-great grandfather’s sisters on the same day (who also happened to be the same approximate ages as Sam an John at the time). A week later, I’m still working on it. It’s a horrible, stark, Spoon River-esque kind of poem and I have the worst of the three stanzas to go. I have done so much research on the topic that I’m almost too shell-shocked to continue. And it certainly hasn’t helped that John ran a high fever all last week and seemed seriously ill, or that Sam developed a nasty finger infection that required antibiotics. Writing about dying children while my own children were fighting illnesses of their own brought my little poem a bit too close to home.
But despite all my reasons for not wanting to write it, it is coming along, and that makes me feel good. It’s a beautiful poem, and something that I’d like to have my name attached to.