Jonathan Franzen, in his latest screed against social media, takes on the pitfalls of this new expectation of writers. Referring to one very active author on Twitter, he argues that now, “literary novelists are conscripted into Jennifer-Weinerish self-promotion.” There is some truth to the claim that authors are pressured to tweet. But when he then disparages “yakkers and tweeters and braggers” as shallow, he leaves writers with no way out. We are both forced to Tweet and labeled superficial for so doing. The only way one can opt out is to be very rich and famous already, too big for publishers to pressure us to help sell more copies. As my friends and I joke (on Twitter), “Only Franzen has the luxury of not being on Twitter.”
I was going to make a comment about how common this particular whine is, but I scrolled down to the first comment and saw that a familiar name done showed up and pretty much said it already, so I’ll say this instead: There are millions, literally millions, of people out there who did very well in English class and could probably write a halfway-decent story if they put their mind to it. Many of them will put their mind to it, at least for a little while. What I’m saying is, Jonathan Franzen’s insouciant opinions about your silly hobbies aren’t what’s preventing you from making a middle-class lifestyle out of your writing ability, it’s just a matter of supply and demand. Who knows, maybe if you weren’t wasting so much time fucking around on Twitter (or whining about Franzen), you might write something that people would actually want to pay for! Probably not, but we can still hope.
Anyway, as I was writing this, I kept thinking: where do I know her from? I mean, this was sho nuff a stupid article, but there was still this miasma of “daft ditz” hanging around her name that couldn’t be attributed solely to that; I must have seen something else she wrote that impressed me with its stupidity…ah, yes, that was it. Wow. On second thought, maybe Twitter is the ideal environment for such people. Maybe some delicate intellects need a sort of cerebral asylum, where they can play with harmless ideas in a safe, supervised setting.