|Posted by Mark Cantrell on December 2, 2013 at 4:05 AM|
It's my brand and I'll distract if I want to…
The other day, I read a little piece on the HuffPost that suggests authors shouldn't be writing 'off topic' because in doing so they are distracting from their author 'brand'.
I think what it means, in essence, is don't say anything that a potential reader of your books might disagree with – it'll put them off. On the face of it, that sounds reasonable, and it no doubt works for a lot of authors. But. Yes, there's a but – I have a problem with any advice that tells me to switch off, bland out, play safe, and shut my damn mouth.
And that, for me, is pretty much what it's saying.
You see, I am both a writer and a journalist. That's not my 'brand' – it's what I do. That encompasses novels and short fiction. It includes news, and current affairs features, essays and comment, interviews and reviews, about a lot of gritty social and political happenings. That also finds an outlet in my more creative writing. It kind of goes with the territory that I have views.
So, the marketing world thinks I should shut the hell up? Get real.
As a journalist, it's about informing, engaging, and entertaining readers; it's about (or should be) provoking thought, and challenging perceptions. It's not about (or just about) giving people what they want – no, it's about giving them what they need to know (and what the powerful preferred they didn't know).
I could essay on this all day, but I think there are parallels in being a novelist or short story writer. It's not just about escapism. It's about provoking thought, challenging perceptions, playing with ideas, daring to dream, poking conformity in the eye.
It certainly isn't about switching off and becoming the kind of bland, inoffensive 'content generator' that is deemed safe for the corporate mainstream's number-crunched view of human life.
Distract from the brand? Utter a few swear words of your choice here. I did.
29 November 2013
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