When you take writing classes, or even scrolling through Pinterest, as an unpublished writer you are bombarded with the idea of creating an online identity for yourself. A platform to collect an audience and eventually promote your books. This is a concept I have struggled with since I took a “Building your Author Platform” at the beginning of the year.
I am a quiet person. I am the private type. I post inspirational quotes on Instagram because I hate not updating it but am not one to post a succession of Snapchat filtered, varying angled photos of my face. Despite this, I am very opinionated. I am confident in who I am and what I have to offer the world. I care deeply about people, and that is why I write.
I write because it’s possible I have an undiagnosed personality disorder (but name a writer that doesn’t), but more so, because I have things to say.
I hate small talk. I usually get it wrong. “Hi how are you?” “Yes thanks, you?”
Social commentary, I can do a lot of that. I have thoughts on the environment, politics and issues of gender equality, marriage equality and mental health stigma. I disguise these thoughts with fake people in imagined worlds. Sometimes I don’t even notice my own opinion scrawled obviously across the page in words that couldn’t possibly have come from my mess of a mind. They are there, whether I intend them to be or not.
In terms of creating an identity online, I’d rather have my writing speak for itself, a hundred times over then express it directly. Why? I’ve spent the past 22 years believing my own opinion was less important than anyone else’s. It wasn’t until I hid myself inside the head of someone who doesn’t exist that I would let these thoughts out, sometimes my truths, sometimes opposing ideas, but always with the purpose of highlighting some injustice I care about.
Last year was not my finest. I give myself 100% to everything, even when I know other things are more important. So, when it ended and I was left with very little to show for what I put in, I felt defeated. Instead of letting that break me, I took that as a place to start all over and change what I gave priority to. This year my focus has been on writing a novel, in the hopes of having it published (the one thing I’ve never stopped wanting), and on myself.
It may have taken 5 months, but I have realised that I don’t give my opinions enough credit. Not a single thing I believe is intended to hurt another being, I form my opinions based on what I believe will do the opposite. I intend only to help others, to spread positivity and have the best intentions at heart, why do I continue to tell myself my thoughts are worth less than those more outspoken?
I put a lot of pressure on myself to be selective about what I chose to blog about. Potential publishers could read any words I write on the internet, I didn’t want them to be dismayed by the use of the word fuck (which appears in my manuscript anyway) or opposing world views. I didn’t want people who know me personally to take something I wrote the wrong way. In truth, I gave way too many fucks because I didn’t think I could handle another thing not working out the way I want it to.
What I know now is that what I thought mattered doesn’t really. “Those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind”. (Dr. Seuss, the kind of genius I’ll never be). If a publisher turns up their nose at me because my online identity doesn’t fit their brand they weren’t the right publisher anyway. If someone hates me for what I wrote, I won’t even stay long enough to watch the door swing closed behind them. I’ve lost enough people to know that when someone leaves your life they aren’t worth chasing. This is my place on the internet and I can write whatever I want on it. My opinion does matter, people will only follow me if they actually give a crap about it (or are a computer/catfish/after more followers), and I’m not a bad person or a lesser person for anything I chose to write.
So, this is my platform. I am taking the restraints off my own thoughts and writing whatever the hell I want. I am an author. I am also a human being with passions, thoughts and flaws. If I’m going to do more than let my writing find its own way, then I’m going to do this my way, fucks and all.