I sat down today with an intention to write a logline for my new book, The Wisdom of the Willow, currently temporarily parked in a copy edit. Anxiety bled through thoughts and limbs, and I stalled at jumping into it. What do I say? How do I narrow my book’s synopsis to just a couple of sentences?
Einstein’s words struck. “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” This terrified me. How could I have written an entire story and not understand it well enough to tell anyone, especially a publisher, a couple of lines of summary of the book? I suddenly knew nothing about my book.
Once I calmed to clearer thinking, I remembered three-ish words on my website:
Personal narratives, Universality, Self-discovery.
Over the decades, these words have come to define my writing;
And they also became my brand.
But what exactly is a brand?
Every writer has one. I’ve been reading a little Mark Twain and I see his writings, from the 1860’s to the 1890’s, reflect an American experience from growing up near the Mississippi River region. Read any of his fiction or even his memoir and you know its a Twain work.
A brand is your identity, and ID tag unique to you, and characterizes your writing.
Over twenty years ago, I started posting short essays on what was then called blogspot.com. I think I called the blog “Magical Thinking,” and I’d give anything to retrieve those writings, as they were my beginnings as a writer that lead to a published memoir. Though I remember little about what I wrote, I do remember my personal narratives were curious and reflective, a deconstruction of complication to learn simplicity in life that mirrored my discoveries in nature and about myself. And like Joan Didion once said, “I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking…” My writing explored what I was thinking.
I then started a personal site here, on WordPress, before buying into the big leagues with my own domain name. I tell you on a “home” page what inspired me to write memoir, the “publications” page reviews titles of my most recent blog posts where I confirm a good representation of my writing—the writing life, the craft of memoir, reflections on simplistic meanings of life and self through connecting with nature—and a “publications” page is a snapshot of writing successes, of my messages to readers, and of my vision through published essays and a memoir. I include an “about me” page where there’s the writer behind her work.
I take root on this site as a complete package. It is my ID tag.
My website and the content, including photos, found on each page are my brand in every way. It is the Personal Narratives, or memoir of growth, reflection and life lessons, the Universality that connects me to my reader with what is relatable, and Self-Discovery, where my voice and vision are captured through stories.
My brand shows me the way; I rely on it as the essence of my writing. It is a bullseye to aim for with a beginning strike of a letter on a keyboard or a stroke of a pencil. It reminds me of a message I want to send through a personal narrative, my voice in telling a story, engaging readers with universal themes, and . . .
to get me out of anxious moments when I should know how to write a short book synopsis but am stuck.
Under the Birch Tree is a memoir of one woman’s search for belonging. It is an inspirational book for women who feel disconnected and whose deepest desire is to find a true home. Through my voice, details of setting and place, and overcoming adversity of relatable life experiences, I learned that connections are never broken as you can always find home.
And from The Wisdom of the Willow, four grown sisters, in the whispers of their now dying mother, use their learned wisdom taught to them in their young years under a willow tree, to find their places to be when faced with their life-changing decisions.
Well, it’s a start, anyway. Maybe back then, Einstein didn’t know about using his brand to help him understand things better?
What is your brand?
Look at your website, your published works, your social media posts, all your writing. See what characterizes you and what you write. Are you consistent with your vision? What themes do you write about? Is your writing voice strong and clear?