05 Oct

Authenticity is okay. Really.

When authors ask me about blogging, tweeting, as if I’m some sort of expert, I always say ‘do what you enjoy doing, and be authentic.’

There’s so much advice from people to be nice to every potential reader, try not to upset the apple cart, so that you can keep as many readers as possible.

But seriously, it’s bullshit.

Because here’s the thing. Being an author, you’re putting a piece of yourself out there. So if you put out a fake thing, or if you’re unauthentic, you’re stuck being just like that forever. Because those people you’ve picked up think that’s real.

Here’s the matrix:

There is no guarantee that being that mask of yourself is even going to bring you readers or keep you readers or audience. So you could be doing something you don’t necessarily like doing, and it might fail to help you out.

Or maybe you gain tons of readers by being bland milquetoast, what then? You are doing something you don’t like, that isn’t you. People tend to generally be unhappy in those situations, or at least, somewhat uncomfortable. So you gain success (although, is having lots of social media followers really ‘success?’ but that’s another discussion) but doing something you don’t like. If I wanted to be successful doing something I didn’t like, I’d be… a real estate agent or something.

So then there’s the other choices. Do something you like (be yourself) and maybe no success comes of it. But then you did something you liked, so there’s that. That’s okay.

And then, maybe, you do something you like AND you’re successful. And then it’s on, baby!

But what about losing followers because you’re yourself?

It’s okay. Let them go. They weren’t really followers. This afternoon I complained about an online service that added $230 to my cart without my choosing to do so, leading to me accidentally ordering $230 of something I didn’t want (barcodes for ISBN numbers). I was so furious I twittered about it, while using the word ‘fuck.’ Because it was fucking bogus to do that to a customer.

A twitter follower promptly suggested I watch out for my language, lest I offend dear and delicate readers leading me to wonder to myself:

Have I really not sworn on twitter recently?
That’s a surprise.
Well, it’s been a weird, quiet month of working hard.
Do they read me? I mean, come on.

My next response was a peal of swear words as an announcement and an invite to unfollow me if that was a problem.

It’s combative, and right away three people unfollowed me.

Which is great!

Why is that? One, people who aren’t comfortable with me being me can then not be annoyed by my swearing on twitter. Two, I don’t have to feel accountable to being someone I’m not. My followers are core followers, who will let me be me.

And then something happened, which people who advocate being milquetoast don’t often account for:

Fourteen (almost thirty now) people promptly followed me.

Even if they hadn’t, I would have been totally happy. Because I would have gotten to continue on being myself, which overall encourages me to continue posting happily.

Authenticity is okay.

Look, I am generally a cheerful doofus/nerd/geek, but I grew up on a boat. And in an area that was not prudish and midwestern. I generally oblige midwestern public space standards (because they’re not *my* spaces). But in my spaces, I generally am comfortable with a certain vocabulary. I am who I am.

If you invite me to speak, I will observe protocol and adapt.

But if you sign up to follow me, because you want to hear and interact with the real me, on twitter or my blog.

Then here I am.

And it’s okay.