If you are a writer, why bother sharing? Why spend your time and energy sharing on social media, starting a newsletter, or vying for attention at all? Many writers have good reasons not to: “I want people to notice my writing, not me.” “Social media doesn’t sell books.”
Despite subscribing to about a dozen Substacks, Dan, yours is the only one I open and read the moment it pops up.
But as someone who has been on Twitter almost since the beginning, yet has only 300 followers (many of whom are probably bots or inactive), I think it's instructive that the examples you chosen are people with enormous communities. They've got powerful brands already. The rest of us are out here struggling on the wrong end of the power law.
It's great to share. Even one strong, real connection is enough to make it worthwhile. I've drunk the Kool-Aid. Yet I'm wistful about the community that I feel like I should have and don't, and I don't think I'm alone.
Even the choice of what story your book tells is an act of 'sharing' - I've had a couple of conversations this week with other writers who are backing away from passion projects they both initially felt very strongly about but which do deal with controversial or sensitive subject matters or settings - other people have put them off, worried them about the potential downsides of dealing with or even just being in the proximity of such subjects. But both of these writers only had intentions of highlighting humanity's predilection for repeated horrors, neither of their projects were intended to codify what is 'right' and what is 'wrong', they were both simply shining a light on to things that are often kept in the shadows, but imho shouldn't be. Anyway, I was disappointed for myself (and the world?) that these two stories might not be told in the unique way these two authors would have told them. I felt that I was poorer for not having access to their ideas, their speech, their perspectives. So I told them exactly that. :)
You only regret in life the things you don't do - engaging with something as ever evolving as social media is not without risk but if you don't you won't be able to say that you tried and/or failed.
Excellent post, as always. Your words about sharing have truly helped me feel less icky about putting my own work out there. It's a slow process, gaining a community who care about your creative work. And maybe that's also why many writers resist it. There is no instant payoff.