A Dysfunctional Character Makes a Dysfunctional Writer.


The plan was always to be the reclusive writer. Not quite like J D Salinger where he started waving his gun around when ever visitors turned up on his door step. But rather like Agatha Christie I was hoping I could write in relative solitude, publish and then just disappear to start on the next book. Well that allusion has quickly been shot to flames.


My Agent wants statistics. Statistics of social media of hits and connections and likes and comments. Me the woman who has tried hiding out on a remote hill eschewing all social contact. I now must learn the art of social networking.


This for many is probably easy, they embrace the modern world of Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, snapchat, pine interest and You tube to name just a few. But for me the whole thing is an anathema. The word social for a start does not resonate very well with me. That’s means conversation and interaction with other people.


But to be a writer one must be out there. And what has become apparent social network consumes an awful lot of a writer’s time.


But network I must. I have started a small experiment to see how this can work for me. So, my first step was to resurrect my word press blog. My last post had been back in April 2019, my march for democracy on to Parliament.


 Last week wrote a piece about how excited I was to get a Literary Agent.  So, this week, we are going to see how my first week of social networking has gone.


I decided to boost my post on Face Book. I had mastered sharing from Word press to face book. So, I picked an amount to boost the post clicked and watched the statistics. And with one day to go the stats are 2066 Reached, 47 Click 41 Engagements. Whether this is good or bad I have no idea, but the figures seem higher than previously.


I then remembered I had a linked in account and I could share my blog on to that which I proceeded to do the next day and the statistics are 68 views after three days. Two ways where actually I didn’t spend too much time on.


The word press site over the four days so far is 60 hits. And 15 followers. I can see by other blog postings that I have along way to go with this. A really long way to go.


But I had to start somewhere. I have along way to go. On building up statistics. I am now going to have to post a blog regularly. Consistency is the key.


I still plane to be as reclusive as I possibly can though. I don’t understand why I need to give any input socially. Write the book, publish the book. Let people read the book. Why do they need to know about me? Why do they need to see me?


I referred to Agatha Christie at the beginning of the post.  The writer disappeared for 11 days on Friday 3rd December 1926. One of the largest man hunts was mounted with nearly 1000 policemen searching for her.


Her car was found abandoned in a chalk pit very near to where I now live. Eleven days later she was found safely in an hotel in Harrogate.  The explanation was that she had had a form of breakdown. She eventually picked up pen and paper and continued to write.


J D Salinger was a different “kettle of fish” but he famously said, “Writing was a terrible invasion of my privacy.”  This is what is worrying me too. If my genius is finally recognised how will I cope with the curiosity of this media obsessed world. He eventually became as famous for his desire for privacy as for his book The Catcher in the Rye.


But are we as writers already socially inept? We sit and write in solitude. We self-obsess about what we are writing. If we are wring about dysfunctional people, we must get in the minds of dysfunctional people.


If like me, you are writing about a serial killer you become a serial killer. Living each day thinking OK what my character would to do next. How would they behave in certain situations?


What would make a serial killer? That was part of my research.


I spoke to my friend who has known me almost 55 years. We discussed certain issues about my book. We bounced a few scenarios which would result in a person turning into a serial killer.


Finally, her reply was, “I feel like you are slipping rather too well into the mind of a serial killer.”


She is right of course. One step further into dysfunctional for the writer, let alone the character in a book.


I then phoned another friend whilst he was at work to ask him “Have you ever stabbed a person?”


I can’t say for sure whether I was relieved when he said after a pause. “No, I haven’t” or disappointed.


Undaunted I continued with my line of query, “So what would the amount of blood spray be if I stabbed someone through the heart?”


Again, a pause before. “Well they would bleed a lot once the knife is pulled out. But its difficult to stab someone through the heart. You must get through the rib cage to the heart. And what kind of knife are you using?”


And that of course is the crux of it, not only was I already getting into the head of a serial killer. I was dragging my friends into the same dark disturbed world.


It would only take a few more steps to become socially reclusive. To become inept at social conversations. To want to just ignore invitations to any event. It’s hardly surprising that writers reflect their characters or vice versa.


We put so much of ourselves in our writing. Do we have time for socialising? And do we have time for social networking.?


Already on a couple of writer’s forums the response to my initial query has been social networking is a full-time job in itself. Do we have time for it? Well by the sounds of things we must make time for it.


But in my heart, I still hope that I can eventually revert to my life of solitude. Living the life of the wild woman of the woods. That by some turn of luck my books will suffice, and no one will want to know anything about me.


I am meanwhile looking for houses that are difficult to get to and miles away from other humans.


One thought on “A Dysfunctional Character Makes a Dysfunctional Writer.

  1. I think the social media part of being a writer in the modern world is truly tiring, mindless and draining but an essential part of the job. today, in the era of self-publishing there are simply far too many books out there day to day so getting noticed is much harder than it was previously. When I was picked up by my publisher I innocently thought they would take care of the marketing but that never really happened.

    I know a number of writers who chat on FB etc all the time posting urgent updates such as “I combed my hair this morning” just to remain in the public eye. I am really bad at marketing and self-promotion and my sales made that very clear. You are a very talented and interesting writer and I really hope you achieve the success you clearly deserve. I shall now discretely vanish into the shadows !


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