Sunday, August 09, 2009

Who Are You?

By Ali Cross

Who are you? I mean, who are you . . . really?

When you become published, you are going to need to know the answer to that question. There will be radio interviews, blog and newspaper articles, school visits and book signings. When you open your mouth to speak, what words will come out of your mouth? What message will you share? Who will you be?

We all know Stephenie Meyer, so I hope you won’t mind me using her as an example here.

When Stephanie first became published, she presented herself as Stephanie Meyer, mom, wife and author-by-happenstance. That became her shtick—she was given the remarkable gift of a spectacular dream that had a life of its own and demanded to be told. She was only the vehicle this story used to find its voice.

Perhaps you are similar, and you, too, will say “I’m just a mom/dad who had a cool story to tell.” And if that’s who you are . . . who you really, really are . . . then that’s awesome.

Or, maybe you have a purpose to your writing.

Last night I saw Julie & Julia, a movie that tells, in part, the true story of Julia Child. Julia Child wrote her famous cookbook “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” with a purpose—to teach Americans how to cook delicious meals like they do in France. She discovered this purpose when she found herself, an American woman, in France. She loved to eat and wanted to cook the French dishes for herself, but couldn’t find any cookbooks in English. And so she wrote.

If you are writing nonfiction, it can be easier to identify your purpose, or your voice. For those of us writing fiction, that task can be more challenging. There may not be an overarching moral to your story. However, if you do share a message through your story, you could use it to give voice to your public appearances, and in so doing, set yourself apart.

For instance, in my book The Devil’s Daughter, the main character is unsure what power she has, if any, to withstand the forces of evil. She doesn’t know that she can choose, but rather fears she is relegated to living a life of evil because that is what her family expects of her. The moral of this story, of course, is free agency. We are all free to choose for ourselves.

Should I have the privilege and opportunity to speak to fans and potential fans, I would probably speak on free choice, on finding yourself, being true to yourself.

I think knowing who you are as a writer could be elemental to your success as an author. And finding your own shtick, that thing that sets you apart from the crowd, can never be a bad thing.

I challenge you to think about it. How do you want to be known as an author? I’d love to hear what you think about this subject, and any preliminary thoughts you have—or, if you’ve already given this some thought, tell me . . .Who are you?

1 comment:

L.T. Elliot said...

I haven't entirely answered this question for myself yet but I do know that I want people to believe the best in themselves--that they are who they want to be. I also wouldn't mind being known as a kick-trash-story-teller, either. ;)