Friday, February 27, 2009

Being Gary Coleman: the Ben Tanzer Repetition Patterns Guest Essay

If you remember, I get to throw off my blogging duty...at least this one time...as part of This Tour Will Change Your Life, Ben Tanzer's virtual book tour for his new short story collection, Repetition Patterns, published by the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography. Tanzer, of course, is the writer of the novels Lucky Man and Most Likely You Go Your Way and I'll Go Mine and is now publicizing the story collection. So appropriately enough, his topic for today's stop is marketing yourself as a writer, which naturally he entitled:

Being Gary Coleman
by Ben Tanzer

People will not find your work. Okay, they might, and they do, but mostly they won't, because there is a lot of clutter out there, waves of good to great writers, making noise and publishing, and you need to somehow rise above that clutter, if only for a moment.

So, try the following: self-absorption, saturation, compulsion, repeat.

You must love yourself and your work. Your work is a product. Like Tide, but more interesting. Your work is also an extension of you, the best you, not necessarily the most attractive you, bed head is fine, even the occasional lapses in the brushing of your otherwise pristine teeth, but your writing must rock, you must hone it, get feedback, tweak and re-tweak, and keep writing, writing, writing until you have a voice, any voice, as long as it yours.

And then you must celebrate it, like your very own Technicolor dream coat. Now, am I implying that you should think of yourself as Jesus, well Joseph? Yes of course, and Spiderman, Iman, Yoda, President Obama, Elizabeth Crane, The Ramones, Viggo Mortenson, Tom Brady, Gandolf, and even Gary Coleman if it helps. You are your brand and you must love your work. Love it so much that you want it out there because you know without question that people, some people anyway, will love it as much as you do. How do I know this? Because I do, this is how it works, even when it doesn't, see JT Leroy or James Frey.

Now saturate. And no, that is not the same as exfoliate. Well, it's kind of like that. Still, now you must blog, twitter, blog about twittering, update your Facebook status, more blogging, more twittering, get out, share links, blog about your links, make friends, shoot a video for YouTube, link to other blogs, leave comments on people's blogs, make more friends, be funny, swap books, be engaged, and available, and blog, schedule a reading, shoot another video for YouTube, twitter, Facebook, do interviews, ask people to do interviews, twitter about interviews, do more readings, blog more, be interesting, support your friends, join Goodreads, go on a virtual book tour, blog about that, and then twitter some more.

Do this compulsively.

And then repeat.

Any questions?

2 comments:

Ben Tanzer said...

Hey man, many thanks for your time and hospitality. Much appreciated.

J.W. Nicklaus said...

I'm living every word you wrote, brother! Well, not precisely every word, but in general. I will be doing a tour myself, as well as blogging, interviewing, mailing, traveling, signing, talking . . . and somewhere in-between I hope to sleep and retain some semblance of sanity!
Great post. I look forward to following your tour!

Cordially,
J.W. Nicklaus
The Light, The Dark, and Ember Between