Saturday, 13 September 2014

Your Quote About Dog Turds Goes Viral

The situation: social networking activity in overdrive; swarm of Goodreads notifications.

You feel: frustration.

You’ve written a modern masterpiece recreating the style of Jane Austen. It’s full of witticisms, wry observations about life and romantic prose. The book is truly overflowing with catchy phrases and quotable slogans. Yet, for some reason, the predominant sentence that people seem to enjoy quoting involves poo.

Everywhere you turn, somebody else has quoted, ‘It weighed down on me like a rucksack filled with dog turds.’ Even your mum has written it to you in a text (although admittedly the predictive text equivalent, ‘It weighed down on me like a rich sock filled with dogtooth,’ doesn’t quite have the same punch).

You’re in two minds about this. On the one hand, 2,000 people retweeting a line from your book is a good thing, on the other hand, dog turd analogies hardly capture the essence of your literary romance.

It is important not to let this one quote alter the course of your career. On this particular occasion, people were amused by the juvenile quote, but that does not mean that you should jack in literary romance writing in favour of coining phrases about excrement. Likewise, you should not replace the rose petal imagery in the sequel with a simile involving cat piss.

Avoid ordering bookmarks, coasters and banners featuring the slogan about turds. Viral internet sensations are often short lived, and you don’t want to be left with a living room full of placemats about poop – especially as they make poor presents.

Instead, recognise that the internet is a chaotic and unpredictable place in which some things go viral and others do not. Keep faith in what you do and do not let passing fads knock you off course. Write more books, continue to fill them with quotable phrases and hope that the embarrassing poo quotation will be displaced by one of your more prestigious quotes.

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