One of my favorite books on writing, “The Writing Life,” was written by Annie Dillard. This is what you will find on the home page of her website:
I’m sorry. I’ve never promoted myself or my books, but I used to give two public readings a year.
Now I can no longer travel, can’t meet with strangers, can’t sign books but will sign labels with SASE, can’t write by request, and can’t answer letters. I’ve got to read and concentrate. Why? Beats me.
Then, on another page:
Like many other writers, I can no longer read, let alone comment on, the many books and manuscripts people send me. I am going to stop even acknowledging them, to my sorrow and the sorrow of many good writers. I’m merely overwhelmed. I can’t help get others’ writing published, not because I’m holding out, but because I don’t know any agents who are taking on new writers or even who handle “literature.” I lay low.
Nor can I write introductions or forwards or provide comments or text or reviews. It’s a matter of time, not of heart. If I answered one-twentieth of the mail, I could neither read nor write, let alone take care of family.
This raises so many questions in my mind regarding platforms and feedback and the role that social media plays with today’s writers, myself included.
Is her approach toward her readership simply a “luxury” that only the uber-popular can afford? Or is her popularity the result of this kind of complete focus and dedication to the craft? How much better would my writing be if I didn’t bother with all this other STUFF? Would the quality be the same?
If you became a well-known author, would it be a relief to disengage from social media, or would you, in the words of Annie Dillard, feel sorrow?