ART AND ALGORITHMS
It is exciting to be a newly published author. After endless hours of drafting, editing – thinking and rethinking – my first book of poetry has been completed. Surprisingly, the thrill of seeing the visual version of a book “made by me” has been short lived. The next wave has settled in all too quickly.
The first round: is it good enough? How will it be received? Will it draw readers? And how does all that work? The second round: how do I navigate the slew of social media platforms competing not only for my attention – for marketing purposes – but also for reader interest, not to mention critical feedback.
Entering the world of self publishing has provided a huge learning curve. Getting my head around format and layout and appearance has been quite the challenge. Developing a fluid working relationship with a project manager to ensure clarity has proved challenging as well. That being said, once a committed effort is in place, the rest is sheer determination. There is no room for self doubt once a pledge to take a personal project into a public domain is in place.
Having said that, why do I find myself preoccupied with numbers? Is artistic value measured by “likes” and “dislikes” posted by multiple Instagram users? What does it mean to be creative in the 21st century?
I grew up in the world of “hard copy”. I wrote with a pen or pencil. Then on a typewriter. And when enough time went by, on a digital keyboard. My interest in books was fed by regular visits to the neighbourhood library and bookstore. I loved the look and feel of a book in my hands. I found comfort in finding newly published work by a familiar author, and excitement at the prospect of picking up a book by an unknown voice.
Admittedly, there is a need to navigate the ever changing landscape that comes with time. Changes that come with time. A need to understand the language of social media and its impact on human interest. It is not so much that the world of hard copy has disappeared. Perhaps more so that it has transitioned into a world driven by digital platforms.
What does all that mean to me as a newly published poet? Does it matter that I am self published as opposed to having been “grown” in the world of traditional publication? Perhaps it is not all that important how words find themselves on a page. To have found the light of day matters.
What I can say with a reasonable degree of confidence is that I am grateful for my hard copy roots. I am grateful for the artistic vision of Sal Oggiano and the incredible line drawings he created to complement my poems. And I am grateful to my very talented daughter for developing a killer website that has allowed me to introduce myself to potential readers. To engage in conversation with anyone who happens to pass by, and say hello. And ideally to take a chance and discover a new poet whose words may resonate in a meaningful way.