T is for Trumpet

Number 20 in The A to Z of the Writer’s Affliction, part of the A to Z blogging challenge.

I must have been all of six when my parents took me to see my first concert. Not Eddie Cochran, I’m afraid, who wasn’t on their radar, but Eddie Calvert, otherwise known as the Man with the Golden Trumpet. Not quite as rebellious, but still, I was mesmerised, so quite naturally, for my next birthday, I asked for a golden trumpet. For some reason, my parents resisted the temptation to melt down the stash of gold bars in the airing cupboard and bought me a cross between a bugle and a cornet, made out of tin. The only tune I learnt to play was Abide With Me, the most doleful dirge in The English Hymn Book, but also the first and easiest in the accompanying pamphlet.

Why do I tell you this? Because it’s another affliction. Here’s what Ros Barber has to say on that rather dull (except to writers) topic of trad pub and self-pub: For those who prefer orchestrated backing to blowing their own trumpet, who’d privilege running a narrative scenario over running a small business, who’d rather write adventures than adverts, self-publishing is not the answer. Now, the problem is that despite whatever orchestra your publisher can provide, you’re still centre-stage with the trumpet, and although you may have rehearsed for hours, you don’t feel comfortable blowing it in front of an audience.

Yet that’s what you should be doing. The ancient virtue of humility is obsolete today. A recent study has shown that humblebragging doesn’t work and it’s better simply to go for all out boasting. As Oliver Burkeman puts it: A network such as Twitter is designed precisely to connect you with exactly the kinds of people who don’t mind your boasts, while those who might keep you in check won’t follow you in the first place: your audience thus serves as an army of enablers, applauding your self-applause.

For the shy, introverted writer toiling unnoticed in some unlit corner of the social media cavern, it’s time to get out that trumpet, preferably golden. Haven’t got one? OK, the cornet. Ah, it’s broken… All right. Um… A plastic kazoo?