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The Writer's Platform - Getting Personal

Sometimes I’m not here.

Well – that’s not really true. Since ‘here’ is a virtual here, I guess I’m always here. But – sometimes I’m here somewhere else.
Er – what did he say?

Perhaps I should start again smiley.

I was in another place – I won’t mention its name. And one of the things that happens in that other place is that people – writers – offer bits of themselves up for critique. And a new co-sufferer there did just that. He (or, as it might be, she) offered something up for critique.

And the people in the other place, they started posting like crazy.

But not to critique. Or at least – not to critique the posting.

You see, the poster had included some very specific personal information. And even though the place in question was restricted to people with login accounts and passwords, there was a general view – very stridently expressed – that the poster should take down the personal information. Immediately. Sooner that immediately. Sooner than sooner than… well. You get the point.
And they weren’t wrong, those who posted such replies. Their tone might have got a little, um, intense at times, but they weren’t wrong.
Er – huh? Probably? But… but… it’s, like, Personal Information! It’s, like…

Yup. Probably. Maybe even certainly. Or maybe…

You see, one of the things writers, people like me, are told to do is to build a Platform. And one of the things about a Platform is that it isn’t just about me telling you stuff. It’s about building relationships, friendships, and – yes – me telling you stuff. Stuff about what I write, and stuff about me. Because before I can tell you about things I write, before you can know about my books – and ‘A Comedy of Terrors’ doesn’t come out until July – my me is pretty much all I can tell you about. How I write, the way I write it, things I did – but me stuff. And that takes us right back to that whole Personal Information thing.

Now if I tell you at the top of every blog post something like:


Graeme Smith

14 DunMadeitUp

Street New York

San Luis Potosí



Then, apart from being put up on a charge of Grand Theft, Geography, such an address might well be thought of as ‘too much Personal Information’. But – and isn’t there always a but – what if I don’t? what if I tell you how when I woke up this morning the sun was sparkling off Laguna de la Media Luna? How, as I took my fifteen minute morning stroll to the office along Sráid Uí Chonaill, past the Instituto Politécnico de Lisboa… well, is that any less personal? Any less dangerous? Any harder for someone with a telephone book (oops – my age is showing. Let me adjust my set), er, Internet connection, to find my address? Heck, if I say I’m doing an appearance at a local bookstore in Hammersmith, next to the Schloss Benrath, is that any less Personal Information?

It’s hard to be personal. It’s even harder to be personal without being, um, Personal. And if I shouldn’t tell you about my morning constitutional through Montmartre, and the amazing pastries at the little café at the intersection of Briennerstrasse and Via del Corso, what can I tell you?

I guess I can tell that this is me. Graeme Smith. Writer of comic fantasy. And when I woke up this morning, the sun was sparkling off…

Ah. Right.smiley.

So what do you think? Or do you even care where the sun was sparkling, or about the cute little dog I saw as I walked along the, um, the thing I was walking along that I probably shouldn’t name? Do you only care when ‘A Comedy of Terrors’ comes out, or does it matter that I like the pastries at El Grande on Fifth Avenue?

The floor's open – I’d be interested in your comments. So long as that’s not too Personal cheeky.


Kelly Hashway's picture

LOL. I try to be me without oversharing. How's that? If I don't want to know it about someone else, then I don't share it about myself.

Graeme's picture

So how about how much I loved the sun sparkling off Lake, um, er, Thingie this morning? Too much, or not enough?

The thing with Lake Thing is the picture changes a lot between Lake Windermere and Lake Titikaka... or some other Lake Thing, no? smiley

DM's picture

I think we have to be careful what we share.  If we want to publish we need to maintain a professional outlook.  We do need to be careful what and how we say things.

Graeme's picture

And I think that was, in part, my point. That we cannot truly remain anonymous, nor should we seek to. But that in setting aside that very anonymity, we may reveal more than we think we do. That my very telling you how much I love the pastires at El Grande on Rue Bonaparte may tell you things about me that perhaps I shouldn't say. Even if those things are just my poor grasp of Geography! blush

Michelle Pickett's picture

I guess I agree with Kelly. If I don't want to know it about you, I probably won't tell it about me.  :)  

But unless you are using a pen name, there isn't much that can be kept personal.  Anyone with a computer can find out a lot of information about just about anyone.  I don't share my address on my website, but that doesn't mean a person couldn't find it if they were so inclined.

That being said, if I'm lucky enough to have a book signing at the Barnes and Nobles in the Woodlands Mall in The Woodlands, TX I'm going to tell people.  Otherwise how am I ever going to meet potential readers?


(And, yes, I live in TX - but  not in The Woodlands. )

Katrina 's picture

They hide in their rooms and the only light is from the glow cast by the monitor. It's quiet except for the humming of the computers fan and the creepers finger tapping the keyboard. All the information he needs is there. Only a key stroke away. His fingers move to the mouse. He drags the cursor to the profile picture and one solitary click follows. The creeper smiles delighted he's found what he's been searching for.

So that's what goes through my head when i see people posting all types of personal info on the web.

Graeme's picture

And I agree entirely. And yet...

As writers, we want our readers to find us. To know about us. To connect with us. So how do we place ourselves? What do we say? What do we not say? As far as the Net is concerned, the only real way to hide is for it not to know you exist at all - and maybe not even then. If we have to put ourselves out here - how much is too much? Or too little?

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