Anyone remember “The Point”? The 1971 animated TV movie written by Harry Nilsson (who wrote and performed several songs in the film) and voiceovers by Ringo Starr, Bill Martin and Dustin Hoffman? Not exactly a kid’s movie, it hit hard then and still does now. “The Point” is the story of young Oblio, a boy with a rounded head in a land where everyone else’s head has a point. Being banished (and wearing an orange pointed hat to hide his uniqueness) Oblio and his dog, Arrow, search for the Pointless Forest. During their travels they come across Rock Man (who we all really know is actually stoned) and receives some very significant advice. “You don’t have to have a point to have a point.” Profound, huh?
Pondering the internet and the desperate efforts of writers to create a web presence, I couldn’t help but think of Rock Man and Oblio. We’re all wearing garish pointed orange hats hoping to hide our inadequacies at creating a cyber presence to stand next to other writers’ and authors’ sites … but we honestly don’t know what the hell we’re doing. I mean really, what’s the point of an author’s website? Of course the main goal is to showcase the author; use a nice photo and polished bio. Naturally we want to feature our work, offer a sneak peek and hope for the best. But really … WHAT IS THE POINT?
The bottom line is we really do have to be there. Without a web presence we’re back in our own stuffy home offices, sitting at the keyboard and clacking away at nobody. Everyone wants a website. It’s like bellbottom jeans and tennis bracelets, trendy but valuable. The important thing is to be unique, something Oblio didn’t discover until the end of the movie. We need to embrace our inner Oblio, but instead what are we all really doing?
Frantic to have the mother of all sites, we scavenge for ideas. We look at everyone else’s site, from Barbara Kingsolver to Mary Sue Blue, unpublished newbie from Amana, Iowa. We digest what we like and discard what we don’t. Now it gets really hairy. I mean jeeze, we’re writers, not web designers.
Those of us who know amateur web designers, drive that valued friend nuts with our vision. After that sort of fails, we gather together the savings and decide that a professional is required. Holy moly when I think of the boom in the web designer business I shudder, knowing that they are buying tennis bracelets with money taken from starving writers. After that, guess what? The site still isn’t what we envisioned. If we can afford it, we try again, pay again and the cycle continues. And all for what? WHAT IS THE POINT?
The point is that we must have a web presence. It’s a vital part of our platform. Luckily there are a ton of wonderful professionals out there to advise and direct. Blessedly there are template programs at reasonable prices that can help a writer created a good website. But in the entire process, we need to pay attention to the reason we’re doing this.
Think about it. You don’t have to have a point … to have a point. Like Oblio, our uniqueness is our message. One site I really love belongs to author Jeremy Shipp, http://jeremycshipp.com . His bizarre, strangely skewed point of view shines not only in his writing but also in his site. It’s subtle but oh so clearly there. There is no question about his point.
For me, I am rather eclectic, so my goal was to create a visual universe for each of the novels I’m featuring. That’s my point, versatility and vision.
Find and define your point and everything will get easier when determining your web presence. Everything will fall into place. You don’t have to have someone else’s point, you only need to have yours and make it.
So when preparing to plunge into the internet world and build a site of your very own, take a few moments to know where you’re going. Avoid the Pointless Forest … and remember that you do have a point and it’s an important message. It will impress your friends, family, prospective agents or publishers and your readers.
Embrace your inner Oblio!
And now, me and my Arrow are heading off for a visit with Rock Man.