Words Are All I Have
Words, mental health and The Loving Hut
First up allow me to point you in the direction of the latest interview I gave to Jane at Tweetables. We had a lot of fun putting it together which comes across in the questions and answers. There's also a lovely review of "It's A Stray Dog's Life".
I can recommend joining the Tweetables mailing list and following the social media channels as there are some wonderful interviews with different authors and reviews of books from a variety of genres.
Followers of my blog will know by now my life has revolved around words. A career in PR will do that to you. I was once flown to a distant land for a job interview. The cost of the flight, hotel etc. was a little over the top as my future boss only asked me one question. "Have you ever written a press release?" I had many years experience by this point so was close to giving a sarcastic answer. I needed the job and salary though. As such my answer of 'several hundred' was truthful. The job was mine because I knew how to use words. If you think how many words are in a press release I've probably written several novels worth over the years. I'm not sure it would make the most interesting of books though. There were some I'm proud of. I can't say too much as client confidentiality forbids for some reason. After all they're in public domain so why I have to be secretive is beyond me. However, one does stand out. I was doing some work for a motor cycle magazine around a major event. Writing about home-made amphibious bikes was a bit bonkers. We even held a race for these beasts across the beach and lake at the NEC in Birmingham. The quote of, "who needs bridges when we have amphibious bikes" was genius. We didn't mention how many sank. It goes to show, include the good words and disregard the rest!
Major exhibitions and events always lead to a chuckle or two, especially when words can be misconstrued. At another event I received a SMS from a colleague saying, "I'll meet you at the loving hut." Now, he's a lovely guy and a great friend with a beautiful wife and daughter, but the wrong gender of the species for me. The message seemed strange until you realise we both went to boarding school. The experience locked our sense of humour at about 13 years old with a large emphasis on puerile! The 'Loving Hut' proved to be an amazing pop-up vegan restaurant. I'm a sworn carnivore (my grandfather even worked in an abattoir) so, if I'm saying the vegan food was amazing, you can bet it was.
There is a more serious point to my missive. It's how we use words to portray our brand and sell whatever it is we're selling. If you're a business looking for answers on building your brand, drop me a message. I charge for that advice, although I'm sure I can fit a plan around your budget. If you're an author, the following advice is free.
Words can portray anything we want. I write my book description, back cover blurb and social media taglines before I write the book. For me I find, coupled with my plot outline, it helps me bring the book together. It won't work for everyone. However, I have given this advice to several authors who hated writing the blurb and descriptions and it's helped them. Sometimes it's easier to describe the idea rather than the finished article. If it works for you then feel free to use the idea. Sharing is caring after all.
The use of words goes further. I change my author profile on a regular basis. I'm still not sure I've got it right. I'm a PR veteran, so being centre of attention goes against all my instincts. I belong in the shadows, not the limelight (a lesson a few PR people could do with learning). I know many authors feel the same. We write so we can hide behind our words. There is one famous moment my hideaway was blown. An editor friend used my real name to fill in a few column inches moments before his deadline hit. I'll leave being famous to other people.
There is a happy medium (no I don't mean Gypsy Lee in the local fairground), between attention seeking and hiding in the shadows. For me it was using a pseudonym. For others it's being able to reinvent themselves under their persona as an author. Social media gives us the chance to be the person we want to be and write about the things we find interesting. Writers, and I include journalists in this, are the bravest people in the world. We put our hearts out there in our writing, allowing the world to judge us. Is it any wonder we're all addicted to coffee and need therapy? Even actors don't make themselves so vulnerable. They hide behind the characters they play. It's why we are all so shocked when we see their human side.
It's the crux of the point. As writers we need to protect our mental health too. Our writing is only part of our life. We still have to clean the house, go shopping, walk the dogs and fulfil all the other daily chores. Using words to protect the rest of our lives is just common sense. Selling books isn't about selling our entire lives. It's a job we chose because we love it. It's also, emotionally, the toughest there is. In this day and age, it's also scary. One wrong word and it can all come crashing down. It's the downside of social media. There are too many 'keyboard warriors' who hate seeing success. If you don't believe me, look at how many celebrities have quit social media recently.
Words are our lifeline. How we use them is our greatest skill. How we build a story the greatest gift we can hold. Good reviews should be celebrated, criticism accepted where it's valid. Where it isn't, it should be ignored. If you can achieve that, you're a better person than me.
I'll end this with a reason why words are so important. They make us laugh and cry. They touch our souls or breed hatred. Their power is immense. As writers we are the temporary custodians of words. We should treat them with the care they deserve. When we don't we end up living in a country where we rely on translation apps and end up accidentally buying a goat (yup, I accidentally have bought a goat).
A final thought
I know this blog has been more serious than usual. It says much about my state of mind. I'm still struggling far more than I thought with losing Princess. The other strays are helping, but I can see they're missing her too. We all want to be remembered after we're gone for good reasons. Princess, even though a stray, achieved it purely by being a good soul. There's a lesson to be learned.
Stay safe, keep smiling, and remember a line a senior executive once sent me. "I'll see you in The Loving Hut"
MaxS and The Strays
PS. "It's A Stray Dog's Life" is still on sale and you can post reviews too.