A friend and I were talking at lunch today about how important it is not just to tell people how to do something but to tell them why they need to do it.
I remember in high school, my Latin teacher told me—after I informed her I didn’t care for Latin—that I had to take it, so I might as well like it. Well, I suppose on one hand you could say her remark was a good lesson in attitude. Not!
As a high school student, I truly wanted out of Latin. No, they did not let me skip Latin and it was time spent doing something I did not like, so I barely squeaked through the lessons to make decent grades. I do remember emo, emere, emi (first, second and third person) meaning to buy, pay for, take gain, etc. And that’s about it.
By the same token, my History teacher (who was an excellent teacher despite one you could not help being just a little scared of) told our class why we needed to take history. I remember one of the things she said was, “History repeats itself.” She went on to tell us several reasons why it was important to take history and always added, “Learn History and you learn from History.”
Between the two classes, I can honestly say I poured effort into studying History, while I flitted through Latin. History became important to me and to this day, I still love reading history. I understood there was a reason for it that would help me then and in the future. We humans are funny creatures; we really need to know why we need to do something, and we need to know that the something we are doing will make things better for us.
There are many things to learn about writing. Most of us make the effort to learn all we can. Once our manuscripts are ready for publishing, then we enter into a different arena. We already know things are changing fast in the marketing and publishing area for writers. Now we have to learn how to market our books, how to become a whiz in social media, building name recognition and our images as authors. We have to bring attention to ourselves and sell our books. All these areas have become the writer’s responsibility. Now the publishers and agents are on the sidelines waiting to see which authors are making names for themselves, which ones are creating a following in the social media, how many pre-orders we are selling, and how many books we have sold before they give us serious consideration.
We need not despair though. We as authors can come together and help one another with recognition, building social media and selling our books. At Southern Writers we never cease to be amazed at the graciousness of the best-selling authors who fill each issue, willing to share their experience and expertise with other writers. They are successful authors today because they took to heart long ago the reasons "why" you market yourself and build your reputation every way you can. And they enjoy doing it.
Don't waste unenthusiastic effort blogging, tweeting and marketing because you're told you have to. Recognize the true value of it, and learn to love it. Because when we truly believe in what we're doing, we're much better equipped to carpe diem.
I guess I remembered more than I thought.