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.”You can find the rest here. I'd love to know what you think.
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.