At a tail end of an unpleasant flu that lingered for three weeks. Been largely off social media during the illness. Realized, at some point, that Jenny Zhang is no longer on Twitter. Meanwhile, the government has been keeping files of both social media activity and Internet search results by immigrants, of which I am one. Beyond my natural concern that what I read and say will be used against me in my immigration proceedings, I am wary of the implication of performance; when I continue using social media tools, am I curating and/or censoring myself, knowing They are watching? Is abstaining from social media resistance, or is it giving in? Still thinking.
But I came across 11 Writers on What It Felt Like to Shill For Literature in 2017 on social media and thought it was interesting, especially because the writers are so different, and their takes all over the place. On that note, Though I Get Home is now available for pre-order on the FP website (discounted!), Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.
Here's a gif that Feminist Press made:
"Shill" is of course a deliberate word choice. I don't know if I agree with it. Implies insincerity, and points to literature as a luxury existing entirely separate from politics and, well, reality. But emotionally, the word captures the feeling of doing something frivolous -- even being something frivolous -- when promoting a book.
I get it. Asking people for their time and attention is a serious demand. But it goes both ways. I'm a reader, and I try to support fellow writers by taking their work seriously, and definitely not seeing it as a frivolous luxury. Thinking about it that way helps me understand the writer in me as being part of something bigger, which is the continuation of a very long tradition of people making sense of their world through reflection aided by written words. Not shilling, but participating, and carrying the torch.