Monday, October 20, 2014

Social Media: Personal vs. Professional Persona

Folk occasionally ask me about my website. I invariably direct such inquirers to Novel Spaces – adding that I don't have a site of my own. I do this because usually the people asking know me as a writer and are, I think, imagining a site replete with pithy insights into the craft of writing and/or step-by-step instructions on how to become a bestselling author. I explain, if pressed, that though I've been known to pith unexpectedly, I've never been accused of being bestselling and there's little evidence I have clue one on how to go about becoming so. Also, and folk have to be pretty persistent to get to this line of defense, I'm a media tie-in writer and there is no need for yet another site devoted to the various intellectual properties for which I've written.

There's a bit more to my lack of sitefulness – some of which is germane to this month's theme of social media for writers. I once had a Live Journal page. On it I blogged about my writing, my family, my work in education and mental health, and just about everything else that came to mind. There were posts made during my vigil at my father's deathbed. Posts about my youngest daughter overcoming a childhood heart condition to be on her high school's cross country team. A tirade or two on society's treatment of people struggling to overcome mental and emotional handicaps. My racially blended family's encounters with southern culture. The stresses of partnering with Child Protective Services in dealing with a toxic family – with way too many toxic families. Or my soapbox positions on theology, spirituality, philosophy, and politics. Lots of politics. I'm a political junkie. The odd piece about the publishing, gaming, and media tie-in industries. And, yes, every so often I'd wax thoughtfully on the craft of writing, the life of a writer, and lessons I've learned about both over the years.

In short, it was a personal journal, not the journal of a writer. And, on rare occasion, someone who came looking for me because of my writing, was very disappointed with what I had to say about the education and public health industries, or things they found about my family or my faith or my politics (usually my politics).

When I went full-time as a freelancer, I killed my Live Journal. It was too easy to find, and eliminating it was easier than restructuring it to be reassuring and attractive to potential clients and publishers who might Google me prior to doing business with me. (Yes, I know there are privacy settings, but excising the thing entire was easier than going through and deciding what should be available to whom on a post-by-post basis. It's not like I don't know my own opinions or can't articulate them on demand if the situation requires.)

I do have a Facebook page, but it's a pale shadow of my former Live Journal. Those of you who aren't among my Facebook friends will only be able to see are pictures of my granddaughter, human interest stories, personal anecdotes, and humor. The closest thing to political opinion pieces you'll find are posts reaffirming my unbridled support of teachers.

Could I create a site that's all about writing, particularly my writing, that's filled with articles about the life of a writer, how to build a writing career, the tricks of the craft, and analyses of great works? Could I create a site that presents me as a professional writer, that showcases my talents without being pushy while providing interesting and useful content for readers, fellow writers, and potential clients? Of course. I'm a writer, that's what I do. And when my career goals move me in a direction where such a site will serve my needs, I'll do it. Already have the domain name for it. But right now it's not a tool I'm focused on developing.

Besides, if you're interested in reading up on what I know about writing, all you have to do is click on "Kevin Killiany" here at Novel Spaces to see an archive of 80+ columns.


Charles Gramlich said...

I wonder about my blog in this sense. When I started it I did keep focus on writing most of the time, but I've gotten away from that. Has it helped or hurt? Not sure.

Liane Spicer said...

I hear ya. My personal blog is all but inactive; sometimes I remember to replicate my Novel Spaces posts there, and now and then I post about something that doesn't quite fit the writing-publishing focus of Novel Spaces.

I find I'm much more comfortable with the latter, from a professional standpoint.