Thursday, January 10, 2013

Branded and labeled

When I think about all the work I've put into this blog in what is almost a full year of writing an entry a day, I feel quite proud at my commitment to consistency. It's hard enough to do anything each day. So how is that even though I sometimes forget to floss or neglect other regular routines, that when it comes to my blog it's become almost second nature?

That is an interesting question, I'll admit. But the reason I bring it up is not because I want to answer it. At least, not exactly. Instead, I'd like to address a related question, one that has been bothering me quite a bit lately and was only reinspired by the visit of a certain entrepreneur to one of my classes this afternoon.

The guest lecture which took place took us into a deep discussion about the value of personal brands and working with social media to advance an agenda - whether it be corporate, personal or what have you. We looked at all the different mediums of spreading information, how they are properly used and occasionally misused to, in a sense, advertise a brand.

And one of the most blaring missteps of some who do decide to create a brand for themselves on the internet is doing it for recreational purposes, but not towards an evident goal.

You see, to me this blog appears to have a pretty obvious purpose. That is, it is my means of sharing ideas and practicing my writing on subjects that I find interesting. Sometimes it can get a bit metaphysical and other times it is very much about concrete storytelling. Still, other times it's about simply practicing my skills at writing critiques or other types of essays.

What this blog doesn't have, though, is a category. You can't compartmentalize it and label it a blog about movies, television, books, science, education, family, or anything else really. At one point or another, it's been about all of those things and more. But it doesn't exactly fall into one category more than the others.

And I guess that can be a problem. At least, it may be now that my blog can be discovered by a quick search of my first and last name.

While I've made it a point not to say more than my first name on this blog, it has become evident to me by personal Google searches that you need not search too hard to find my 365 day writing project (admittedly it's not on the first search results page, yet the issue still applies).

So am I embarrassed? Am I ashamed of my writing?

This has been something I've been considering quite a bit since I realized the truly public nature of this space. And to be honest, I haven't come to a solid conclusion.

Because the fact of the matter is, I'm a pretty confident writer. I feel good about how i construct an essay, so I've never felt anxiety about sharing my written works with anyone. Yet I know that some of my blogs have been written very late at night or even at odd hours of the morning, when I'm not entirely coherent. And other blogs have been written when I've felt down-spirited or even upset. A whole year of blogging will inevitably include off days.

And because of the way I've constructed this blog - as a place of personal reflection - sometimes those emotions aren't hidden underneath the guise of a scholarly article, but fairly obvious within the subtext or even the more plain text of my writing.

The whole idea of social media as a means of branding yourself suggests that what's important is creating a workspace that is centered around a topic so you can build up a following with it. This will look good to potential employers and whomever else looks at your oeuvre of work in the future.

I guess when I started this, I didn't have that in mind. What I wanted was a place to write down what I thought and experienced and in some way share those thoughts, even if it was on a small scale. That is what I accomplished.

So returning to the question of whether I'm ashamed or embarrassed of what this blog consists of, I guess I do have an answer.

The answer is no.

I'm not ashamed, nor am I embarrassed. If anything, I'm proud that I did something that a lot of professional writers fear doing - being too honest and perhaps too frank. I've told a lot of stories that I never thought I'd share, and I've put them in a place where anyone can read them. And even though that might not necessarily be a trait that is interesting to potential employers, that wasn't my purpose when I started this blog.

The reason I've spent about an hour a day for 358 days (and the reason I will continue to do so until I reach 365) is because I wanted to do this for myself. I wanted to test the boundaries of my writing and if anyone cared to notice that was their prerogative. I appreciate the attention, of course, but I'm not begging for it.

I guess that's why I didn't attach my last name to this blog in the first place. It wasn't about personal branding or labeling myself. And even if that is in some way what it's come to be, it has done so of its own accord. I will let it be that because I am proud of what it is and the purpose it serves. But I won't lie about what the purpose is.

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