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Make sure you have those professional photos, authors, or else you're not really an author

Thursday 10/26/23

Here's something I've noticed via Facebook. You have all of these pretend writers. People with no ability, who don't work at writing, and who hardly ever write, if at all. But you know what so many of them have? Professionally done author photos. And they'll update them. "Here are my updated author photos from the ones I had done two years ago. Many thanks to--insert name of professional photographer."

What fantasy land bereft of standards and scrutiny and thought and accountability and common sense and introspection do these people live in? They're just cosplaying this thing they are not and they never will be. And yes, of course they have no ability. But you can't even ever try? You control how hard you try. You want to write every day and work at it, you can write every day and work at it. You can fit it in, no matter what else is going on or that you have to do. And I say that knowing how many of these people are independently wealthy, get up at 9 o'clock, and are all about brunch and soy lattes and the like. But they all have their damn professional photos. They have more photos than they have works. Pieces. It's kind of funny, but then someone will be like, "Here, have a Guggenheim, would you like a Guggenheim?"

People are lousy at titles. I very rarely see a title that doesn't make me think, "That is just horrible. You can't do better than that?" Coming up with titles is very hard for people I've noticed. Do you know why? Because coming up with anything is hard for them. A sentence, a clause, an idea, a title. Because they're totally ill-equipped to do anything with words, let alone anything compelling. Or competent.

I'll give you a recent example. I saw a woman on Facebook bragging about her book, with, of course, everyone hitting that like button. All of these insincere liars and bullshitters as part of the literary community experience. Because that's all it is. The title of her novel was Liminal Summer. Liminal Summer, eh? Really? That's the best you can do? That's what you think it's best to go with? Liminal Summer. And no one--no one in your life, no friend, none of your pretend writer friends, your publisher, just no one--says, "Um...maybe try something else?"

Here's the thing and I seem to be the only person in the world who knows, at least so far as writers go: Nothing is easier in this life than to stop reading something. Right? Put it down, look away, stand up, stop scrolling, hit close. Everything you do as a writer--from the first word of the title--has to be about keeping that reader going. As soon as people see the word "liminal"--which basically no one in the world knows the meaning of--they are going to be done. They are going to be done before they start. That's it. Over. See you. Goodbye.

Liminal Summer. And it doesn't even make sense if you know the word, so if you do you've now been aggravated twice. You've written two words, and you've annoyed someone multiple times. You think they're going to read your book now? And trust me, as soon as they got to the first clause, they'd be annoyed again. They'd have more reasons to stop reading.

You can use the word "liminal," of course, in your writing. But here's another thing that apparently no other writer in the world knows: The meaning of the word must be clear from the context so that people who don't know the word in isolation will not only understand the word's meaning, but--and this is vital--not think, "Oh, they've done a big word here," because you cannot take the reader out of the reading experience. Now, are there going to be miserable, envious people who complain about seeing words they don't know, even though the meaning of those words is totally clear--and their inclusion completely appropriate and effective--in the text? Yeah, of course. Because they're miserable, envious bastards, and almost aways wannabe writers, failed writers, self-stylized gatekeepers of a sort, and pretend intellectuals, who really don't know anything about anything, but like to pontificate and bore people who also don't know anything and can't call them out. It's their whole pose in life, the basis for their identity, as such. You'll get this with people who pretend to be music experts.

But you know--or you should--when you're using the right word because it's the right word, or when you're using a word in order to try and convey, "I'm smart! I'm a real writer! Look at me! Please believe this!"

Of course, you could just pay for some professional author photos. That should take care of everything.


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