Why Did the Chicken Cross the Information Highway?

By Paul Kupperberg

ENT-chickenBob Greenberger asked us to write about recent obstacles we’ve faced in our writing, which seemed a fairly easy topic to approach. In writing, as in any creative endeavor, you’re constantly facing obstacles and challenges on every level: Coming up with that fresh approach to an old idea. Creating characters that will be interesting both to you as the writer as well as to your readers. Working out that terrific, wonderful, perfect plot idea. Later on fixing the gaping holes in your terrific, wonderful, perfect plot idea. Shoehorning the story into the allotted page and/or word count. Stretching the story to fill the allotted page and/or word count. Finding a market for your work, preferably one that pays. Finding an editor who answers their phone and replies to emails.

But in the final analysis, none of those are so much problems as “the job.” It’s process stuff. And as everybody’s process is different, and everybody else’s process makes everyone shudder and wonder how the hell the other guy can work that way, my process isn’t going to work for you and vice versa. It’s also boring.

Charlton NeoThough nowhere near as boring as the biggest challenge I think is faced by the majority of independent creators–certainly those of us who have hitched our wagons to Crazy 8 (as well as my comic book indie publishing endeavor, Charlton Neo Comics): Promoting our creative endeavors. That’s the process of all processes and it feels as though creators spend more time talking among themselves about how to sell our work than why and how we do it in the first place.

Do we use Facebook? Twitter? Pinterest? Tumblr? Instagram? Google+? (Okay, just joshing with that one.) Everybody claims theirs is the best way to reach their fans and readers…but are their fans and readers the same as mine? (Looking at the demographics of my followers, I should probably stick to AOL chat rooms.) Whichever of the social medium you go with includes posting, reposting, responding, liking, poking, grinning, pointing, and other time consuming maintenance; often I’ll look up and more than an hour will have gone by with what started as a simple Tweet or Facebook post.

I love my fans, each and every one. Without you, I’m just a creepy guy writing faan fiction in a Cheetos stained t-shirt in someone’s basement. Social media brings writer and reader closer than I ever could have dreamed being with the creators I admired when I was a fan. I never mind answering questions or chatting online with anyone, but keep in mind that the internet is like everyone in the world knows your address and can come knocking at your door at any time. And they often do, most just to say hi, others to request interviews or blurbs (even as I was working on this piece, a friend PM’ed me to ask if I would write an intro to his book) or ask about favorite past projects of mine. It’s both part of the job and a personal pleasure, but it’s often a challenge to balance the relationships and the time spent nurturing them. And, let’s face it, as someone who sits locked away in a room by himself most of the day, the cyber-human contact is often the only thing between me and cabin fever madness.

While I’ve done any number of jobs in publishing on everything from tabloid newspapers to comic books to books, I’ve always considered myself a writer first and foremost. And, keeping in mind that I began my writing career at a time when all we had were typewriters and telephones, the internet and social media are something of a blessing and a curse to me…not to mention as baffling as a battery powered beard trimmer would be to a caveman, who not only wouldn’t understand how it worked but why such a thing was even needed.

But like that chicken crossing the road, all I want to do is get to the other side.

Of the obstacle, not the road.

Retweet this or poke me or whatever if you get what I’m saying.

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