Strangely, I find McVoices interesting precisely the fact that I don’t know them. In the post post modern world of the digital revolution which is populated by trolls and sock puppets (so I believe) writers who receive reviews are constantly being berated for their dishonesty, being told that this is just because they are ‘friends’ with the people reading their ebooks that they are getting good reviews, Accused of all kinds of nasty behaviour when in fact they might, heaven forfend, just be 'popular' or other people might just like their writing!
it’s very hard to toe the line when the goalposts are being bent by trolls. And it’s quite hard not to ‘get to know’ or ‘get to know of’ other writers. These are people swimming in the same pond so to speak. It’s a huge pond, granted, the internet, (just look at your ‘rating’ on Amazon – sometimes mine is 1 million or something – if only that were sales not position down the greasy pole) but wur wee corner is actually quite – well ‘wee’. And that means that you kind of come across the same folks time and again. And part of what McVoices is meant to be about (as I understand it) is to spread our plankton tendrils just that little bit further and hope to find and virtually meet and then god help us, virtually ‘get to know’ other writers. It sounds like a great idea. The problem will come further down the line when we do ‘know’ more about each other and when, heaven forfend, we might start to write reviews or talk about our ‘fellow’ writers. At that point we’ll be accused of sock puppetry and all kinds of dark arts. I’m just telling you this now so that we can all laugh and shake our heads (or fists) and say ‘told you so.’
And it has ever been thus. That people get things arse about face, I mean. And that writers ‘get to know’ each other. And that’s no bad thing. Readers. I know it’s all about the readers. But dear reader, we writers are readers too. And sometimes we speak whereof we know. So that when we review another writers books, we may be doing it NOT because we are trying to aid a pal up a greasy pole but because we actually like their work and respect their writing and feel like telling people about it. And as writers, we feel quite well placed to review writing because, guess what, as writers we WRITE and if you WRITE books you may well be reasonably well qualified to know what makes a book ‘work’. Note I don’t say ‘good’ because I’ve been slapped down so many times in the last year for using such a word. In our ‘post post modern’ world it seems that ‘good’ is as in the eye of the beholder as beauty. And myself, I’m not a fan of the ‘best’ type thing. I don’t see writing as a competitive art. I don’t apply for awards or try to become ‘awesome’ or generally submit myself to the fiction beauty contests where others may tell me how good (or otherwise) they think I am. I don’t want to be ‘judged’ I want to be ‘understood’ and that, my friends is a two way relationship. That requires some communicative act taking place between reader and writer. And the erevolutionary times in which we live makes that a much more exciting possibility. As a writer I can now ‘meet’ virtually and exchange views with fellow writers (and readers) without ever actually meeting them or getting to know them in the flesh.
I’ll declare at this point. Of the McVoices we currently have. Brendan Gisby is a man I’ve never met but actually now count as a friend due to the many ‘virtual’ interactions we have shared. All of which came about from my increasing respect and yes, love, of his writing. He speaks with a voice I recognise. A voice I’ve rarely found in the whole pantheon of fiction thus far in my life. And I have read many many books. It has to be more than 50,000. Seriously. (I have been alive a while and spent a lot of my life reading!) I’ve read and reviewed work by Bill Kirton, Angus Shoor Caan and Lee Carrick but I wouldn’t know them if I passed them in the street. I’ve read work by some other group members on McStorytellers – some I like, some I don’t like so much – and that’s fine. And there are plenty folk here whose work I haven’t got round to reading yet. But one day I expect I’ll have read something by each member. Maybe even reviewed it. And they will transform from being people lurking around the same site, to virtual ‘colleagues’ and some may even become ‘friends’. Who knows , I might even meet some of them one day.
This little serendipitous line of thought (I’m afraid my blog posts are rather more stream of consciousness than well thought out reasoned arguments at times – times being what they are and life being so short - ) came about because in my ‘real’ work of publishing ‘forgotten’ writers I’ve been thinking about biographies. About how we ‘know’ about writers and their lives. And I realised that if someone were to write a biography of ME at this time, even if they had access to all my posts, written work and indeed emails, they would only get a very small part of who I am. I don’t believe the picture they would draw would be very accurate, however good a biographer they were. And this has made me re-evaluate the way I read all writers biographies now. And indeed has got me thinking hard about how we do actually ‘know’ other writers and what that all means. It’s far away from the stupid, facile ‘sock puppet’ comments which keep those in the world of five star reviews happy. It’s more a consideration of how each of us, as individuals, learns about other writers and what we then do with that gained knowledge. I hope that McVoices will be a place of friendship and collaboration where we can exchange views with fellow writers and where we can spread the wee voice till we become that mighty Hampden Roar. I believe it’s something we owe to ourselves both as individuals and culturally. It’s a way of striking a blow for the ‘wee man’ (and wumman of course) Because even plankton have a right to life, don’t they?
P.S. No plankton (I’m not sure I really know what a plankton is actually) were hurt in the writing of this post. And hopefully no writers. If I left you off the list of fowks I ken, I’m sorry, it was the typing at speed that done it. I only had fifteen minutes to put this ‘famous’ piece of writing out there. It was just a fifteen minute thought put down on virtual paper.