Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Kate Zambreno on leaving Twitter

I kind of played against what was “good” or “successful” and ultimately quit Twitter because I found myself repulsive, caring and craving so much for witness and recognition, and warring against myself whether to promote myself on Twitter or retweet praise or write about the process of writing, which felt at times like a sort of promotion, a real-time behind-the-scenes I’m Writing! Read my Next Book Entitled Suicide is Amazing in 2016!—even though I like writing about process, and I like reading about writer’s processes....Basically, whenever I think I’m doing something that would be good for publicity, I wind up bailing on it. Maybe I have issues with success. I find failure more interesting. I also think in general the writers who use Twitter to promote themselves or their projects, instead of writing about ideas or writing about reading or posting weird jokes or having a conceptual project, were the ones I found really boring, like being at a publishing party, and it made me cynical about being on Twitter myself.

....I think noticing who was following me or unfollowing me based on something I wrote depressed me in small yet critical ways, or made me think of writing something to appeal to more readers—which I found poisonous as a writer—all that sort of currency, or thinking of being a writer as publishing, or as being an author, or as having cultural capital, instead of as reading and writing. Also feeling a fixed identity—a box—and I felt like I was not able to change or refine ideas or be in the process of becoming. That’s why I quit the online world, for now.

After the last book came out, I needed to calibrate things offline, and go back to having a private life, to mourn or complain or read privately for a while. Writer friends or online friends or people who like reading me will still often write me and say they miss my online presence—which is nice, but also a strange feeling, like you don’t exist if you’re not on social media, or that your online presence is what they read of you. There’s this pressure to be continually writing on the Internet in order to stay a writer. But I kind of like the feeling of being invisible, of not existing for a while. I think I’ve been interested lately in a poetics of anonymity, a performance of invisibility. Maybe that’s why I like twitter accounts that immolate themselves and are performative/ephemeral. Like I think Kafka would have been really brilliant at twitter, but he would have had 40 followers and would have been disgusted with himself and quit it often.