Thursday, September 23, 2010

Presidential letter for GLVWG October newsletter

As writers, we have ideas we think stand out from everyone else’s. We strive for difference. That’s why we do this. We believe that on some level we experience the world in a manner unlike anyone else and that we can articulate this.
Or maybe we think we have a special view of the world, that we can show society as it really is.
Either way, we have an addiction to the idea, to the thrill of manipulating words, and to the freedom of our own expression.
A recent email from a friend who is a bookseller, not an author, caused me to reflect upon what image we send into the community as writers. The email quoted Flavorwire and mentioned that author photographs often portray us as a certain type:
"In an attempt to look uniquely profound yet accessible, or convey some novel combination of deep thoughts with good times, a lot of writers end up looking exactly the same as their peers."
As artists of the word, do our representations of ourselves match what we convey on the page? For some of us, the answer is a stark no. Perhaps we use the written story to express the exact opposite of what we are. But who are we? Visual artists and performers have a great opportunity to live their art, an opportunity writers don’t necessarily share. Some writers may have no interest in being a character. Writing characters offers enough satisfaction.
It’s something to think about. Do we want to blend with our peers? Do we want to stand out?
If we had one opportunity to tell people who we really are, do we want to play it safe?
Who am I? The very question poses a challenge. I had to face this question when I restyled my business cards this summer. A friend picked a template that really gave them color and spice. When we finished them, she added a reluctant “or maybe you want something more conservative.”
I rejected conservative. How often do I play conservative and where does it get me? I am a tad colorful. I can be loud. I am honest, dedicated and dependable. Those of us who have worked/ still work in the corporate world can often feel chafed by the idea of fitting into a mold, trying to be the perfect employee. We have too many ideas for that.
So who are you?
What message do you have for the world?
And, if you had one photograph to convey it, would you should your tattoo? Have the photo taken in your favorite reading spot? Share the spotlight with your muse? Visit a location that inspires your stories?
As authors, we have to sell ourselves as well as our stories.

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