by Molly Jo Realy @MollyJoRealy
My (im-)Perfect Identity
(Or, How Someone Else’s Questionnaire Led Me to Decide Who I Want to Be)
NOLA NOTE: Before we get into today’s post, here’s the update: Just after I received the second round of edits last month, my trusted Babycakes II laptop had a nutty. After years of this wonderful relationship, it said, “I’m not liking you any more. I wanna break up. Or, at least, I just want to break.” Now, of course, bein’ the sweet talkin’ Bohemian Belle that I am, I very politely convinced it back into my lovin’ arms. [Read: After a glass of wine and some not-nice words, I salvaged what I could and continued.] Y’all know when you’re in a bad relationship but you just don’t want to own it? Here I was, thinking BCii was back on track. Treasuring our moments together, saving them for posterity. Until … scene jump to two weeks later. BCii and I are on the sofa watching some NCIS: New Orleans, of course. And it whines. And whistles. Mind you, I hadn’t even poked it for a few hours. So this calamitous noise was a little disconcerting. I took a look, asked what its problem was, and it didn’t respond. Zoiks! Insert crazywriterwoman face here! So the next day, I took it to the
vet doctor iStore and when I explained its attitude, the nice man behind the counter agreed it was time to date up. So I conveniently dropped BCii like the hot potato it had become, and got me a new Babycakes. Say hello to BCiii. After all the important information was transferred, I brought BCiii home only to discover BCii had, in its rebellious anger, corrupted the last two weeks of work. So. All those wonderful, genius edits my editor called out? I get to do some of them again. Let me finish by saying, I love NOLA. I love that BCiii loves NOLA, too. But I especially love my note-saving, text-reading, memory-keeping iCloud. Pray for me, y’all. This is a lot of work I hadn’t planned on redoing. This, and with the new day job, the finished product will be a little later than hoped for. But I’ll do it. Because Rain and Josie are worth it. And so are you, my Swarm. I’d love to have y’all join my private Facebook group for more information, memes, and all-around fun. You can join on Facebook by clicking here: NOLA Swarm. Stick around and see what happens . . .
Please view the latest newsletter and update your subscription preferences here: A Bigfoot Killer, a New Orleans Monster, and Cutting it Out.
Branding is more than a logo and your name.
I’ll be attending a writing intensive soon. The kind where the class is limited so the instructors can give one-on-one focus to the participants. The kind where they email you a questionnaire like the CIA is recruiting you for dark web espionage kind of skills. Okay, not really. But, almost. These questions lead you through a list of self-identifiers that are supposed to help you learn more about yourself, so you can learn more about how to present yourself to the world. Questions like, “What kind of music do you listen to?” (All kinds. Almost.) “What were your favorite books as a child?” (All of them. Especially with female heroines.) “How much coffee do you drink daily?” (Uhm, a lot.) “Do you like going to the movies?” (Does anyone not like going to the movies? If so, don’t answer. Just delete. Because we can’t be friends.)
Seriously, Ketchup Man. These are some personally invasive get-to-know-you questions that I don’t even ask on a first date. Well, okay. Maybe the movie and the coffee stuff. But then it gets grittier. Things like, “What do you want your audience to know about you?” “How do you want your audience to feel when they read your book?” “Who is your target audience?”
If I had all the answers, I wouldn’t need this questionnaire, or the class.
It’s all about writing, branding, writing, marketing, writing, identity, writing … wait. Identity? Are you serious?
I’ve been accused once or twice (or ten thousand times) of trying to be everything to everyone. Kinda reminds me of a scene in NOLA.
That doesn’t mean I don’t know who I am. It means I don’t always project it properly. Just recently I had the opportunity to discuss branding and identity with a client. I know. I’m a walking oxymoron. Truth is, we’re all good at giving advice, but we rarely seldom follow it. [I tried to find a video clip for Disney’s Alice in Wonderland singing “Very Good Advice”, but I couldn’t. Google it. You’ll get the picture.] I went through my normal tips of what makes a good marketing platform, how to claim your brand. And through the conversation, my muse kept dancing around in my mind, raising her hand and screaming, “I know! I know!”
Not wanting to claim your identity is not the same as not knowing it.
Thing is, I love all y’all. And I want to attract many, many more of you. So I tone it down. I chameleonize. But if I’m the one writing the script, if I’m being true to myself, you’ll see that, yah? I’m my best self when I’m, well, my best self. Authenticity is better than schmoozing with people you’re not sure you want to hang with after hours, amiright? Well, it’s the same principle IRL (Mom, that means “In Real Life”), and in your inner circles. You gotta trust them the accept you, and you gotta accept the ones you trust.
Networking is a two-way street. I don’t care what the subject is. High school girls at a coffee shop? Oliver and Lauren in Alrujah? Gypsies dancing on cobblestone? Steve Jobs recruiting computer builders? You have to know who you are, you have to own it, before you can ask someone else to invest in your world.
Once you own it, you have to live it.
How do you do that? Your brand should incorporate the part of you that’s easy to display, that draws others in. If you’re always the one at the coffee shop, I’m thinking a mug might be a good symbol. Are you a mechanic? Don’t use a stethoscope. What about the living part? Well, part of you doing you is curating those catch-phrases you’re known for.
When I was young, my brother and I were fairly convinced his name was “Let’s” and mine was “We’ll.” Because every Saturday morning after breakfast, Mom would clap and say, “Okay, let’s vacuum and we’ll dust the living room.” Good marketing, Mom. You could have been a cleaning commercial.
There are a lot aspects that go into making you, You. Remember my analogy of the million-dollar mosaic. We’re all a little broken. It’s how we put ourselves back together to let the sun shine through that makes us valuable.
I recently watched The Greatest Showman for the first time. I know, I know. It took me a while. But once I did, holymaloly. I downloaded that soundtrack right away; been singing it ever since. Y’all, I’m not making this stuff up. Go listen to the song, The Other Side. And then you do you like nobody else. Here’s the official soundtrack link from YouTube:
I know what my brand is, and I’m ready to share it. But before I do, for grins and giggles, leave a comment and tell me what you think my branding should be. And what yours is.
With some Bohemian hair and a magnifying glass,
Frankly, My Dear . . . Savor the Journey!
Molly Jo is better known as the Bohemian Belle. She is the author/curator of The Unemployment Cookbook and several eBooks available on Amazon. Her work-in-progress, NOLA, is a full-length location mystery novel set in New Orleans, and the first in her City Series.