TOO MUCH INFORMATION…

A segment of a social network

The density of a social network. This should scare all of us.

I’ve noticed a few authors expressing political and even religious views on Facebook and other social networks. This has probably always gone on, but I just spotted it lately. Perhaps the political season is bringing opinions out of the woodwork. I wonder about the wisdom of doing this by someone who wants to sell books.

One poster I’m thinking of is an author whose books I’ve liked. But after reading her posts about various topics, I find that I don’t like her. So I will probably not buy any more of her books.

An author’s stock-in-trade is his voice. I’ve always contended that you can’t create voice. You can become a skilled grammarian, you can possess a broad vocabulary, you can be an expert at structuring interesting and complex sentences, but the one thing you have no control over is voice. It manifests itself in an author’s writing without him even knowing it. I believe that happens because it’s a tacit expression of an author’s true personality. Sort of like a deeply embedded sub-plot.

So when an author mixes voice over which he has no control, with strong vocal opinion, an image emerges. And it might not be an image a reader particularly likes, especially if an author unwittingly steps on someone’s toes. That’s bad news for most authors. This is not the same as giving a book character negative traits to show who he or she is.

I’m thinking that if someone is so in love with his own words that he just can’t contain himself, perhaps he should initiate a blog. And use another name rather than the name he wants to sell books under. Just a thought.

No one has stronger personal opinions than I do. But being a naturally over-cautious person, I’m very careful about what I say on the social networks. I try to be a diplomat and keep my comments as innocuous as possible. The last thing I want to do is alienate a potential reader with some dumb thing I spouted that’s important to no one but me.

I don’t even criticize books I don’t enjoy. And there are many. Believe me, more than half the books I start to read I never finish because I just can’t stay interested long enough to last for 300 pages. I subscribe to the notion that if I can’t say something positive in a public forum, I don’t say anything at all.

Nor do I often endorse books I do like, although I give very brief opinions of them in my newsletter. (By the way, if you want to get on my monthly newsletter mailing list, just go to my Web site and sign up for the Yahoo group. www.annajeffrey.com )

Having said all of that, fellow-bloggers, I want you to know that I am not wishy-washy. If you and I are having a personal, private conversation, I’ll most likely express my true opinion, come hell or high water.

So I bring this up because I have a question: Am I wrong about this? How do you feel when you read one of your favorite author’s comments that would have been better left unsaid, or at least reserved for another venue? Does it change your opinion of the author or his work?

Just wondering…

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14 Comments

Filed under Lifestyle

14 responses to “TOO MUCH INFORMATION…

  1. Oh, gosh, there are some people I loved to death, but then they became too outspoken with their political opinion, and were quite strong with their dislike of the other party. When they want me to agree with them, and I can’t because I disagree, then I’m on the receiving end of their attacks. I always refer to this time every four years as “The Silly Season” because people who are normally quite nice become very rude.

    With authors or public performers, what they do or say in their daily lives DOES affect my perception, and I can’t read their books, watch their television shows or movies. On the other hand, if they prove to be a very nice person, then I’m a fan (example: J.R. Martinez from DWTS. Didn’t know who he was, and fell in love with him because he has a strong moral core.)

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    • Hi, Tracy. And thanks for posting. This is exactly what I’m talking about. I think this is an emotion we can’t help but feel. I used to be a huge movie fan, but I’ve crossed so many actors and actresses off my list, I almost can’t find a movie to watch these days. I just don’t want to support someone who offends my common sense with my money, It’s a piddling amount, but it’s the only form of protest I have.
      Anna J

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  2. Mary Craig

    Keep preaching, Sister. I’ve never quite understood why people I don’t personally know think I care to hear their views on politics or religion or money or anything else pertaining to my very personal life. Actors seem to be the worst, thinking that if they’re famous and have lots of money, unfamous people without much money will hang on their every word, no matter what they’re talking about. I hate to break it to them, but I really don’t care what they think. I just care how well they do their jobs. Authors are no different for me. Please, folks, you can tell me how to write, or how to write better, or how to get published, or anything else related to writing, but leave your personal opinions about everything else out of the mix.

    As for not saying anything bad about books you can’t finish, that’s probably wise. Chances are that somewhere, there’s a person who can’t put down the very book you can’t read. Those of us who follow your writing may tend to take your word for how good or bad a book is, and we probably need to make up our own minds about that, too.

    Keep writing, keep reading, and keep your opinions to yourself is probably good advice for us all, don’t you think?

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    • Hi, Mary…. Hope the storms didn’t affect you over your way. ….. Do you recall the alar and apples and Meryl Streep a few years ago? That was a good example of what you’re talking about. That fiasco actually affected the apple crop that year. I doubt if Meryl Streep knew beans about growing apples.
      Anna J

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  3. I totally agree. I have been shocked that some writers vent political opinion on Facebook. (I hope my comments to my nephew only go to him,.) Ours is a business, but we should not express political and religious opinions on our business social media. Of course we’re entitled to our opinions, but we cannot expect to sell books to everyone if we offend half our readership.

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  4. I completely agree, Anna! I don’t mention books online unless I enjoyed them, and it’s sad but true that some authors’ rantings have made me less interested in their books.

    While I’ll sometimes (rarely) “like” or comment on someone else’s political post, I never initiate any of my own. I do have very strong political opinions, which makes it hard to keep my mouth shut! So I actually have separate, private Facebook and Twitter accounts where I can vent that stuff to close family and longtime personal friends–in other words, the few people I’m certain will still love me whether they agree with my rantings or not. And I stay out of religion entirely–everywhere. I know I’m never going to sway anyone to my religious beliefs, and frankly I resent it when they try to sway me to theirs.

    I sometimes wonder how much of my belief system is evident in my books, though. Yes, they’re historical romance, set in a different time and place and not centered around religion or politics. But I can’t seem to stop making my heroes and heroines people who think more or less like me, because otherwise I wouldn’t consider them “heroic”!

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    • Hi, Lauren…..Thanks for stopping by the blog and posting. If you read the other posters’ comments, you can see we all think the same thing about this subject. I have the same thoughts as you about my own belief system manifesting itself in my stories. I suspect this can’t be helped. Each and every one of us just naturally gravitates to someone who is similar to ourselves.
      Anna J

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  5. I am not interested in the opinion’s of any author or any of the Hollywood stars. I would much prefer that they stick to what they are suppose to do in their chosen field. I no longer buy some books because Of this and will not go to see some movies for the same reason.I just don’t “get” what they are thinking—maybe that they have such power to control my opinions? I think not !! My money is better spent elsewher…

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  6. Kerstin

    Hi Anna!
    You are absolutely right, it is bad form (or completely stupid) to be loud about politics, religion or any other hot-button issue in a public setting when you depend on that same public for (at least in part) your livelihood. We witness all the time how folks loose their center, humility, etc. once they’ve reached a certain celebrity status. It is an all too common tale, and that is why we admire those who don’t fall into that trap even more.
    Even without public utterances, one can often discern whether an author is more liberal or more concervative, religious or agnostic/atheist by the types of books they are writing, what the characters do and don’t do and how this is set in scene. Often what they don’t approve of reads like a characature and is not fully fleshed out – probably because they have no interest, or think they have no need, in attaining a solid knowledge base which would give these parts of the plot credibility.

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  7. Hi, Kerstin…. Good to hear from you. This is what I mean about the unconscious presence of “voice” in our writing. It comes out whether we intend for it to or not. It’s also why I find it hard to write crime stories. I can’t seem to get into the villain’s head because my mind doesn’t work in a criminal way.
    Anna J

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  8. here i go again…odd man out…but if you only hear from agreers, you might get bored.

    do you remember marlo thomas’s ‘free to be you and me’? well, i am one of those people. like a well cut diamond, people are multifaceted. i may not love all of them but maybe there is one that just knocks me flat. i also think that people, like actors, act and react in their work worlds differently from the way they do at church or at home. maybe i don’t like the office or home facets, i do so love the writer one. the writer makes me hold my breath and laugh out loud. that is the facet i will look at and enjoy and appreciate. so what if i am totally opposed to some of your beliefs….i can still appreciate your passion in them.

    i’ve been up all night so am not sure if i am being as clear as i should but i hope you will understand what i am trying to say.

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    • Hi, HodgepodgeSPV…Thanks for coming by and posting and thanks for being a reader. I’m not saying each of us shouldn’t try to be objective. I’m just questioning the wisdom of being too vocal as a marketing strategy. As you can see by some of the posts, opinions do matter to some people. Not so much to others. What’s wonderful about an open society if that all of us can follow our own paths.
      Anna J

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