Sunday, October 21, 2012

Privacy in the public eye

Wednesday night, I finished reading one of the most depressing books ever written. If you have a weak stomach or can't tolerate endings that make you want to take a Prozac...don't read The Ruins by Scott Smith.

But what I love about unsatisfying endings is that they stick with you. And after I finished reading, I wanted to know more. Who was the person who wrote this book? What was he like when he wasn't writing about man-eating plants? And where on earth did he come up with the idea for this story?

And I found...absolutely nothing. No official website. No articles or even commentaries on the book. And almost no information on the author. I now only know two more things about him than I did before: He has a live-in girlfriend (which is of absolutely no use to me), and he wrote the screenplay for The Ruins (which is really interesting, but just one little tidbit.)

If he had an official website, this is what it would look like. (source)

Maybe I'm just too used to the world of young adult fiction. YA authors are strongly encouraged to connect with their audience via social networking because that's how their audience connects with each other. But even some of them don't give away many details about their private lives. Heck, I've been reading Veronica Roth's blog for months, and I had to read the back cover of Insurgent to find out she was married. She rarely mentions her husband on the site or anywhere else. Other YA authors mention their families constantly on twitter.

So why the difference? Why do some authors (and other public figures) reveal so many details about their lives outside of the public eye, and why do some reveal so little? And which one is better? Or is one better than the other?

I've always been a really private person. If you don't know me very well, trying to get details of my personal life can be like pulling teeth. After all, if I told everyone everything about me from the second we met, why would they want to take the time to get to know me? They'd already know everything about me -- so what would we talk about? Then again, I've always wished I could be more open. It's hard to form relationships when you're so reluctant to let people in.

So should there be a balance? Writing is a very personal task, and anyone writer who shares their work with an audience is going to have to expose themselves. But what and how much should they give away? Should there even be a limit? Should they blatantly share personal things, or let the writing speak for itself?

Just food for thought.

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