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Your Writerly Sense of Self

Someone very wise to me said recently that the people who succeed in a field are those who think they are the thing, rather than wanting to be the thing. The authority she cited was James Paul Gee, who has been talking a lot about the educational quality of video games. Hey, as someone who worked in literacy studies in college, I approve of James Paul Gee.

This made me think about the authorly self, and by extension, the artistic self.

I believe people grasp the idea that if you consider yourself an artist, you create. There are many people who have a hard time finishing a work for a variety of reasons. However, most of us grasp the art of creation, and all of the pitfalls, twists, and rewards therein. We understand often what it is to be an artist at the creative level, even if we don't understand how our creativity works, or sometimes have trouble with making it work.

Sarah Prineas has often discussed the idea of being an author versus being a writer in her journal. The artist I've talked about above, the writer, generally creates, but isn't necessary good at putting that creative work out there. I've heard many artists frustrated at the idea of presenting themselves, promoting themselves, managing themselves, and putting themselves out there. For many of us, it feels uncomfortable. That persona is the author.

I think it's important to develop our authorly persona in conjunction with working on our writing. Not more important, because if you don't have the work, you got nothin' to be confident about. It is worth it to think about your professional persona and image as you build your work.

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Mirrored from Writer Tamago.

Comments

keireland
Jun. 12th, 2009 05:48 pm (UTC)
I guess this would especially apply to people self-publishing, or to authors who don't have a cadre of marketing people advertising for them. Those being the people who have to build everything from the ground up.

It _is_ difficult making myself talk to strangers that I normally wouldn't have talked to; especially when I've got absolutely nothing in common with them. Did you ever have problems talking in front of people, or were you just the type of person who enjoyed that from the start? If you did, how did you get over it? (other than practice.)
cathschaffstump
Jun. 12th, 2009 05:57 pm (UTC)
Did you ever have problems talking in front of people, or were you just the type of person who enjoyed that from the start? If you did, how did you get over it? (other than practice.)

Actually, as a kid, I was painfully shy, and didn't lose that until later in college.

Teaching as a career certainly helped, because you do several shows daily, but ultimately, I tried a couple of things.

1. Fake it until you make it. I've always been an actress, so I pretended I was a confident person who could speak to others. Eventually, I became a confident person who could speak to others.

2. Humor. I employed my sense of humor, which is a gift, and found that once people laughed, it was easier to talk to them.

3. Be myself. I never tried to be phony.

4. Don't be afraid of being quiet. Only in this culture does quietness make us nervous.

5. Talk about yourself, not your book. If people find you interesting, they'll ask about your book.

6. Ask about and listen to the other person. People are genuinely interesting, and if you're interested in them, they'll be interested in you and the things you do.

Good luck, and remember, it does get easier with practice!

Catherine
keireland
Jun. 12th, 2009 06:29 pm (UTC)
Thank you for getting back to me so quickly!

I have improved my introvert habits over the years, but I'm still not as good at talking to people as I feel I need to be to make it as a novelist. Especially a self-published one.

Unfortunately, my sense of humor is often inappropriate for public (this would be my father's fault), and what IS appropriate, most people don't seem to get (maybe because I live in the South?). So often times, I have to keep my mouth shut on the jokes I would have made.

#4 confuses me a little. Should #4 be used in conjunction with #6? In other words, get people talking about themselves so I don't have to talk?

(offtopic: your icon rocks!)
cathschaffstump
Jun. 12th, 2009 06:38 pm (UTC)
4 and 6 can be used together. However, I think of 4 as the ability to avoid prattling on about anything to fill silence, and 6 as illustrating genuine interest in someone you're talking to.

Feel free to steal the icon, even as I stole it.

Catherine

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