March 01, 2008

The Writer's Identity

Live It Up, Brother

A couple weeks back I wrote about "writing strategy" and talked about brand identity. It sparked a good discussion about writers and the identities that they portray both in the public and in their works of art. It's an interesting thing to me because of the implications it has, not only for the purposes of selling the work, but also for the impact that it has on the writer's legacy and the reader's perception of the writer!

Jessica commented a couple weeks ago about Edgar Alan Poe and how he wrote seemingly morbid stories while dealing with fairly morbid things in his own life. That got me thinking.

Jack London. Mark Twain. Ernest Hemingway. Toni Morrison.

The writers we remember, and often times the writers that make the biggest impact on the world (not necessarily in monetary ways, but drastic social change or commentary) often live extreme lives that in almost all cases are vomited onto the page in the form of stories.

They wrote what they knew, wrapping words around personal experience coupled with a lively imagination. It just so happens that what they knew was extreme. These people didn't just sit in their living rooms putting pen to paper. They were out in the world taking in the experience.

What's my point? I don't have one. I just admire my fellow artists and consider them inspirational. And I'm not knocking the people who don't strap up a sled and have dogs pull them across the frozen Yukon (I've never done it, and it doesn't sound all that fun to me), but it is fun to see what a writer's experience can lead to.

It can build them a brand identity, and it can create a legacy. See you on the other side of the page.

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