It’s not chick lit, romance, or mystery. And it’s not science fiction or Southern fiction or any kind of fiction at all…at least not yet. Maybe at some future date, I’ll try to write fiction, but at the moment, I’ll still churning out nonfiction work. But what is my brand? I think I’ve finally figured out what “it” is, thanks to writers Kim Boykin and Anne Lamott.
Last week I attended Kim’s book signing for The Wisdom of Hair that took place at Books on Broad in Camden. After signing books, the author shared some of the back story behind the book and treated us to a reading. Then she told us about her brand, a term I’ve seen bandied about for years but haven’t really understood, at least not in how it pertains to me.
Kim said that she thought women were helpers and that we care and support one another. As I listened, I thought, “YES!” It’s as though we’re genetically coded to be helpers. Is it the second X chromosome? Are we hardwired to be the nurturers? Hmmm. I might have to check out Louann Brizendine’s The Female Brain later today and get to the bottom of this mystery.
Yesterday as I thought about Eve’s Sisters and Crossing the Bridge, I realized that they are both about helping other people. In the first case, the theme is towards self-understanding and in the second, it’s more about what a person needs to do to succeed during and after college. Both books have stories, but all stories are based on events in “real life” and are used primarily for instructional purposes.
I thought back to a year ago when Eve’s Sisters first appeared and how upset I was when a newspaper article branded me as a religious writer. I have no background in theology and do not profess to be a religious writer. Besides, then I’d have to be “good” all the time. Too much pressure! In response to the misprint, I countered with the following on one of my blogs: “I’m a spiritual person who loves life and its mysteries. I’m fascinated by people and their stories, and I’m gung-ho about helping my students succeed. I’m also a beach bum, an avid reader, and exercise enthusiast (daily walker), and a mother who fiercely loves her children and grandchildren. I believe in the nurturing and teaching powers of Mother Nature and savor the moments when I can hear birds singing, brooks babbling, and breezes rustling.”
That’s it: nurturing and teaching. That’s my brand. I’m not preachy. I just want to inspire and help people to live full, rich, effective lives. It could be by applying psychological principles to the women in the Bible and pointing out the similarities between them and the women today. Or it could be by telling students what they need to know in order to choose the right major, ace their classes, and manage their time.
As I had this epiphany yesterday, I recalled Anne’s Lamott’s quote, “These are the words I want on my gravestone: that I was a helper, and that I danced.” Me too. That’s my brand, a helper and a teacher. About the dancing part, to me that’s a figurative way of saying, “Live life to the absolute fullest.”