A while ago I was thinking about “branding” as it is applied to (and by) novelists, and wondering why I have such mixed feelings on the subject. Sometimes I think the very notion pernicious; other times, frankly, I love it. I wrote an essay to figure it out—or to begin to. It went up yesterday on The Weeklings. Here’s a taste:
WALLY OLINS, BRANDING guru, died in April. According to an Economist review of his posthumous Brand New: The Shape of Brands to Come (Thames and Hudson, 2014), branding is “about knowing who you are…and showing it.”
It sounds simple but for a novelist it is not.
Writing is both a verb and a noun, a process and a product. The job of a writer is staged: creating then selling, that is, art then commerce. Stepping from one mode to the other involves a profound rearrangement, a state change, as I found out on US publication of my most recent novel, Hild.
To learn to create the kind of novel I aim for, to conjure another time and place with the authority to immerse a reader—to run my software on the readers’ hardware—took years of two different and contradictory practices: disciplined focus on craft, and a kind of unmoored wandering to find my voice.
You can find the rest here. I’d love to know what you think.