"J.D. Salinger worked in PR briefly. Maybe that's what drove him into the woods for 40 years." When I saw that tweet last week from Mark Ragan, I realized that I'd been somewhat in the woods myself. Not 40 years obviously, just a bit over 40 days since my last blog post.
But as with Salinger (and here my comparisons with the literary great will end, lest I be a classic phony - as far as I'm concerned, when you write a work as great as The Catcher in the Rye, or Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, you have the perfect right to live the rest of your life as you goddamn well please), just because I've been in public seclusion doesn't mean I haven't been writing. That's often the hidden side of public relations, even if PR might tend to drive you a bit crazy.
So, in addition to the occasional visible tweet, I've been busily penning press releases, bylined articles, speaking proposals, promotional letters, academic action plans, conference agendas, you name it. Just nothing with my name on it.
But a group of my friends were talking the other day about how Jane Austen couldn't publish under her own name during her own time (a personal shout-out here to Ann Henrendeen, whose distinctive take on Austen, Pride/Prejudice, has just been published by HarperCollins) and how Mary Anne Evans was forced to become George Eliot.
Oh, to live in the 21st Century, when you don't even need a HarperCollins to get published (though it certainly helps); at the very least, anyone can write essays and distribute them via blogs.
JD Salinger didn't tweet, blog or Facebook (is that a verb?). I doubt he even emailed. Indeed, in the 2002 flick, The Good Girl (not to be confused with the current TV series The Good Wife), when Justine (perhaps Jennifer Aniston's most ambitious role) tells the Holden Caufield-inspired character (played by Jake Gyllenhall), "you're not very social," he replies, "I'm a writer." (see clip below)
So with Social Media Week (an attempt to get social media fanatics socializing in person rather than virtually) beginning today in six cities worldwide, I'm going to honor the memory of Salinger and his most famous character by hunkering down and writing, writing, writing. You'll hear from me again when I get out of the woods.