Thursday, December 21, 2006

How We Use It

Recently I've been noticing the other work that writers who blog do. That is, the time they take to shine lights on things besides their own writing, usually by stepping out of their own spotlight and dragging something into it. What do I mean by that?

Well, there's the obvious. Most writers that have an on-line presence tend to spend at least some time sharing their writing process in the hopes of helping aspiring writers. Some do more of this than others. Holly Lisle, for example, is writing an entire Worldbuilding Clinic, of which the Create a Language Clinic I've talked about before is a part. There's also a ton of information available for free on her site. J.A. Konrath devotes his entire blog to discussing marketing strategies and the industry and other juicy tidbits helpful for those in the biz. Victoria Strauss and A.C. Crispin spend a good deal of their own time and money to hunt down and expose scam agents, contests, publishers, etc. for Writer Beware. And the list really does go on and on. As I said, that's the obvious method for writers to use a spotlight to reveal things that would help others rather than just basking in it.

The next obvious is to let others take center stage and share the wealth of readership. John Scalzi does this as often as possible, even to the point where he doesn't use any of his much-read on-line presence to complain about the books he didn't like. It's his policy. He interviews other authors every week, sometimes splurging with more interviews if he's got 'em. He even has regular "pimp" threads where he invites others to indulge in self-promotion and get the word out to his significant readership. S.L. Viehl (aka Lynn Viehl, aka Jessica Hall) also "pimps" books and authors on her also widely read blog, usually about once a month. I know I've bought at least two books due to Scalzi's and Viehl's recommendations.

Then there's the less obvious, using significant readership gained by being a mover and a shaker in the writing world to shed light on a cause not related to writing. Scalzi and Viehl do this fairly regularly with music. And I know I plan to use any popularity I have to "pimp" art and artists I like. But the Nielsen Haydens (and their guest bloggers) use their reknown for political discussion and offering different aspects of current affairs that may not be getting coverage. (Teresa Nielsen Hayden explains why here.)

It's nice to see all this...philanthropy, for lack of a better word. There's no rule that says you have to take your success and pay it forward or use it to promote something other than yourself. Maybe it's just everyone wanting to maintain good karma. Maybe the world's full of good people after all, no matter what you start to think after watching the news or voting.

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