February 09, 2016

On Not Playing It “Safe”

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Oh fuckity fuck I’ve written a book. This means I cannot to go back and edit it later on, or delete a sentence once it’s out there by highlighting it with my finger, like I would on my trusty iPhone. I’m pretty sure it’s exactly how I want it to be. But with most things I write, like on this blog, I know deep down I can always go back and have a little fiddle. Fuck it, just publish it! I say to myself. You can always go back and tweak it! I can keep on fiddling on the Internet for as long as I please.

But with a book, you fiddle for a bit, but then it’s….it’s…done.

As someone who has made their career by “being quite good at the Internet” this means I cannot use any of my usual tricks or tools. I cannot SEO this book towards the front of the shelves in a physical book store, and I can’t just delete Chapter 8 into the “Trash” bin at the bottom of my screen a few weeks in. Not being able to do these things, is quite frankly, terrifying. We can edit or delete most things in our lives now; that’s just how things are.

Apparently if you’re not a bit (or a lot) nervous about what you’ve written or confessed in your book, there’s no real point in putting it out there into the world. In fact, you should be more nervous if you aren’t feeling nervous.

So they say.

Well, I am nervous for people to read it. But I am consoling myself that it would be worse if I thought: “ah it’ll be fine, everything I’ve written here is pretty bland. Very vanilla. It’s a PG rating. Safe. It’s just something to casually flick through. Nothing to see here.”

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When I was about seventeen, I once overheard a boy at a party call his girlfriend “safe material” . He was bragging to his mates, that he had some sort of mute trophy wife-in-the-making. It stayed with me, that description, to this day. I don’t want to be somebodies “safe” option, I thought. How dull. As I reflect back I realise that comment was not only coated in old-school misogyny because to want to date or marry a “safe” woman means they probably want to make pretty sure that their future wife won’t go off the rails or be a “lunatic”, or god forbid experiment sartorially. This idea that women should be safe and sweet and well-behaved was pretty rife among people I used to know.

*

We’re currently living in a time where the murky waters of the Internet are all around us. Extricably linked into every single aspect of our lives. Everywhere we go, the Internet is there to swallow us up, spit us back out and potentially ruin us. It’s the age of Internet Outrage where one small opinion could escalate, and saying the wrong thing at the wrong time has the power to ruin your reputation overnight.

But, the positives of the Internet have guided me through my life, from my early teens until now. Of course it wasn’t the beast that exists now, the Internet, like me, was in it’s infancy. I found best friends, amazing jobs and the most exciting opportunities all through using a WIFI connection and having a few ideas. 

The book is for everyone. But it’s especially for the young girls growing up with the Internet at their finger tips now. It’s to pull back the curtain on some things we take for granted, on the things we see each day that make us feel rubbish about our own lives and to make sure we are in control of the Internet and it’s not controlling us.

*

Feeling a bit nervous has always been a good thing.

  • Bravo for making a career out of being “quite good at the Internet” and at writing your book! It does take tremendous courage, and that you are thoughtful about your audience and the story you are telling is to be applauded. Now, off to go find your book…

My Book

“In love with Emma Gannon’s Ctrl Alt Delete. So funny & smart, and reminding me of some of my own cringe teen Internet exploits!”

– Anna James, former literary editor of ELLE

"Funny, honest, and nostalgic!"

– The Debrief

“Emma Gannon is a bright spark of light in the world. I seriously dig everything she makes”

– Elizabeth Gilbert, bestselling author of Big Magic