I’ve been listening to some old Clay Shirky videos on YouTube, and have stumbled across something I’m sure I’d heard before but now has great implications for me as I want to write and publish books.
He says the following in a presentation he gives on cognitive surplus, arguing that the Internet is leading people to use their surplus time and brain power to share, create, and collaborate in ways we’ve never seen before.
First, there’s this:
Media that’s targeted at you but doesn’t include you may not be worth sitting still for.
So, how to include readers in the worlds I write about? I don’t know.
Then he says this:
We’re going to look at every place that a user or a reader or a listener or a viewer has been locked out, has been served up a passive or fixed or canned experience and ask ourselves: If we carved out a little bit of the cognitive surplus we now recognize we can deploy, could we make a good thing happen? And I’m betting the answer is yes.
Again, reinforcing that a shared, collaborative environment is going to be part of any creative endeavor.
But not any creative endeavor.
First, I think a creative endeavor has to have a critical mass of followers. Until that mass is achieved, writers can get by easily with Amazon and GoodReads reviews, occasional presence there, as well as presence on blogs and social media. When the audience reaches a critical mass – and I have no idea what that mass might look like – the writer has to create his or her own space for the mass to congregate. Creating Rivendell will have to wait until there are many elves to populate it. And if they ever come at all.