I’ve been thinking
how we judge
Seth Godin recently talked about how what you share online becomes your own personal “backlist” as a person. And that, as the years go by, your backlist should help support you, instead of being something that closes doors.
But one example he used was jarring to me:
“I almost hired someone a few years ago–until I googled her and discovered that the first two matches were pictures of her drinking beer from a funnel, and her listed hobby was, “binge drinking.” Backlist!”
This terrified me.
That as we, creators.
We… human beings…
Can be judged
For a moment
Even one that may be ill-advised (yet entirely legal.)
It seems unfair
To need to craft one simplistic narrative
Of one’s work
Of one’s life.
That an 18 year old
On a journey
That a 22 year old
On a journey
That a 42 year old
On a journey
Must cover up.
Must censor themselves and their experiences.
For fear of what it means 20 years later.
That we shouldn’t encourage punishing people professionally for their journeys personally.
Platform needs to represent the human journey, and the complexity of a multi-faceted human being. For writers, this includes the complexity of their work.
I am an advocate of platform, not as promotion, but as connecting with the world in meaningful ways. And to do so, we have to stop being cookie-cutter brands that can only represent one thing. We have to become more human, not less so. Sometimes, that means challenging others’ simplistic perceptions of who we are.
As we engage with online for years – and years – and years – we have to not feel boxed in by platform, but feel empowered by it. Encouraged to grow because of it. To change as we grow as people.
My definition of author platform has nothing to do with promoting one’s books, it is instead about developing: effective ommunication with the world and trust with others.
Communication and trust. Not promotion and sales, even those those could be potential outcomes of communication and trust.
Does your platform as an author ask intriguing questions, or merely answer simple ones?
For writers, I say this to encourage you to consider the craft of platform. How it can and should be as thoughtful as the craft of writing. And that it can represent you as a complex person, flaws and all, not as some perfect vision of who we hope to convince others we are.
If we want all of this to matter. These blog posts, these comments, how we engage on social media, we need to be more mature about it. Not mature in hiding that we ever drank from a funnel; not mature in pretending that we don’t have anxiety or ever cry; but mature in realizing this is the human experience. And dumbing it down to align to a fictional narrative of who we are does a disservice. Judging others quickly because of it does a disservice.
And this can be a messy process.
A strange journey.
And an altogether brilliant moment.
We, as human beings are not one thing.
We are many things, all at once.
And the platform you craft needs to open new doors
Not erect roadblocks.
It needs to make us feel more like human beings
And less like commodities.
And support the messiness of art and living
Not provide easier ways to snap judgements.
I hope that your platform as an author
Can, in time
Represent the complexity of your writing
And you as a person