Tuesday, January 19, 2010

So You Think You Know Me?

I had an entirely different post drafted and ready to publish. But I sat on it a couple of days, dwelling a bit. I became a bit concerned that it was a touch racy perhaps for a pg-13 blog. There wasn’t anything overtly outrageous, but it could have possibly ended up offending certain people (namely psychos and creepy people, and maybe also strictly PG only people). So I sent it to a couple friends and I got some fab, helpful responses, but my favorite was this one (paraphrased):

You don’t want to fly that freak flag too high, Carol.

So, okay. I’m not posting it. Clearly. Which is kind of sad, actually. Because it really was a funny post, if I do say so myself. But I’m glad I had a few days to let it rest. Along with some much-needed reconsidering (for the sake of not seeming like a complete freak/idiot), I also got to thinking about Daisy Whitney’s brilliant guest post about branding on Lisa and Laura’s blog, Lisa and Laura Write. I mean, this whole blog thing is fairly new to me, and I’ve always been of the mind set that I’m just me—love me or hate me. But I realized:  my name means something to others now. When an agent/editor/stalker googles Carolina Valdez Miller, they will get a nice little hit list of my online activity. And this will, in turn, impact how they view me and my work (gasp!)

But here’s the problem—all that stuff you see of mine online is not wholly ME. It is me personified. Still, the stuff you put out there online—posts, comments, tweets, photos, cartoons, videos—they all create a branded image of you, whether it’s the real you or not. Because of this, the Online You must be carefully considered and yes…crafted—something that I haven’t given much thought to until now.

So, I tucked away my funny, slightly creepy blog post, and then I sat down to write out some qualities that describe my online persona.  And OMG, I realized I don’t really know who I am (online). I mean, yeah, I usually shoot for funny. Yeah, I can be fairly passionate, sometimes sentimental. But…Kooky? Freaky? Off the wall cheesy? I use words like awesome and shiznit and OMG and WTF—so perhaps youthful (yeah, I vote for this one!) But is there intelligence? Heart? Skill? Are any of those qualities present in my blog? Do people assume that because my characters have a tendency to flip me off, that I’m either 1. nuts 2. a moron 3. clever?

But here’s what I’ve come to realize—I LOVE to take people by surprise. Few things thrill me quite as much as catching people off guard by defying their expectations. And if nothing else, this should be evident in my blog. Is that what I want branding me? Sure—in part. I like to do that in my writing, too. But I want all the other stuff, too. I want my bloggy friends to know not just the Online Me, but a little more of the Carol Me. So, I’m going to give you a few facts about myself that may or may not defy your expectations (And also, I’m working on my blog awards post for tomorrow where I’m supposed to do this anyway, so killing two birds with one stone):

1. I am probably one of the most sensitive people I know. It doesn’t take much to move me. Seriously.  A Hallmark commercial will have me blubbering like a three year old who’s just left their teddy bear on the metro.

2. I am one of the most insecure people I know. If I hear you whispering, I will assume it is about me. If you don’t write me back, I will assume that I have just done something to offend you. If you don’t leave a comment, I will assume you hate me (I am only exaggerating a little).

3. I am a hermit. I like to be around people, to kick up my heels on occasion, but I thrive on being alone. It takes all of my strength and every last shred of self-confidence to walk into a room full of people I don’t know. I don’t think I was meant to be this way; I think it’s just the way I’ve evolved (this might also be tied to number 2). Writers conferences are going to kick my arse. I will likely end up blubbering like an infant, holed up in my hotel room, thinking the world hates me.

4. Despite numbers 1-3, I do actually have friends. But I’m not always the best at being one. I rarely call and I forget to e-mail and send cards. I’m not at all good at phoning people actually--I get tongue-tied and stammer and laugh like a lunatic. Texting is now my crutch. So if I text you instead of phone you, don’t take offense. It’s me, not you.

You are now wondering how it’s possible to be friends with me, so allow me to explain:

5. I love humans. I can usually find something good in most anyone, even Wal-Mart people. I’m a sucker for the downtrodden, the abused, the neglected, and the pathetic. This doesn’t mean my friends are like this, but if they are, I’m okay with it. When they need me, I am generally there (except for that time I forgot to pick up my friend’s child from school. Doh!).

6. I’m loyal. Rather like a dog, I will defend you. Unless I don’t like you. But maybe even then.

7. If you hurt my children, I will. hurt. you. And remember, I’m the creative type.

8.  I am a mother hen (see number 7), but not just to my children. I often adopt a protective attitude with my friends. I am quick to jump on the “Let’s get ‘em” bandwagon if you tell me someone has hurt you.

9. I go to church pretty much every Sunday. Our pastor knows my name. Indeed, I am a very spiritual person, though I tend to keep it to myself because it’s a private thing. But I’m inherently wicked. So it’s a struggle sometimes (I’m only exaggerating a little).

10. When I sit down I double cross my legs (cross once, then wrap my foot back around my calf). I don’t know why. It’s just a weird thing I do.

And finally, because having an 11 defies expectations:

11. I say the wrong things, leap before thinking, and stuff my foot into my mouth on a regular basis. If you can’t overlook this, we are probably not meant to be friends.

Now, I ask you: What defines you? What online persona have you tried to create? Or have you given it much thought yet?

Check out Russell Brand. Now here’s a guy with a very distinct persona. And it just so happens, in this video he touches upon the concept of, well, brands. And it’s hilarious. Love this guy.

************************************************************

Just a quick reminder before I close up shop: Don’t forget about the Cosmic Coincidence Contest I am hosting with Simon. All you have to do is write a flash fiction story up to 1,000 words, and in exchange you can win books and critiques and have your story be featured on both of our blogs. So, please do enter (see numbers 1-2). Be sure to check out the rules here and the prizes here. The end date of January 31 will be here before you know it.

34 comments:

  1. I love this! I love you. You sound so much like me. We'd be total buddies, if we ever remembered to call each other. ;)

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  2. Very honest... it was good to get to know you. There is a lot of truth to what you are saying. I think it is easy to have a persona behind a computer because we are only showing the world what we want them to see. Life through a filter.

    By the way... I really want you to post the one you stuffed away. But that's just me. I'm not so PG... or PG-13 for that matter.

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  3. OMG! I could have written every single one of these things (well, all except the number 10 one). That is sooo cool! Please don't think I'm acting like a dork or something, but this is awesome...um, sorry, I mean the shiznit:)

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  4. I love that Russell Brand video! Laughing outloud, I am.
    I think you may have stolen my persona, though,and since Anissa and Melissa say likewise, we may need a communal brand. ;)

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  5. OMG I love Russel Brand :-)

    Ugh. and your #10? I AM SO JEALOUS. Okay, I know that's really weird, but I am so envious of people who can double wrap their legs. I'm not even exaggerating a little bit. If my knees go bad in a few years it's from a)gymntastics, b)dance, and c)MY ZILLION FAILED ATTEMPTS TO DOUBLE WRAP MY LEGS.

    I loved this post. :-)

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  6. Hey, you know what I say? Fly that freak flag as high as you can. Well, unless it's the kind of freak that makes clothing from poeple and keeps chicks in wells in your basement. Don't fly that flag at all, in fact.

    Well, and perhaps you should avoid the full-body tattoo flag. That might not go down so well at church. And the metal horns in your skull flag. That one's creepy. And the...

    Um. Okay.

    Nice to get to know you more, good lady.

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  7. Great post Carol - makes me like you even more :)

    I'm a complete & total sap as well - all I have to do it think about a commercial a few years back about a young man visiting Dieppe & calling his grandfather to thank him... gets me every time.

    Love that video clip!

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  8. Sign me up for 3, 6, 7, 10 and 11. Yes, I said 10. I think it's a circulation thing, it's how I keep my feet warm. Oh and the walking into a room full of people thing, I still hate it, but after years of being a recruiter at hiring fairs, I can do it. I remind myself that regularly. Would have loved to see the post you didn't publish.

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  9. #3 is definitely me. I haven't really given too much thought to my online "persona". I will now, though (thanks for that, Carol. Now I have to think...ugh).

    I will come back to check out the video after work. Have a great day and it's nice to me you (again). : )

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  10. I loved reading these. Thanks for posting and letting us get to know you a a bit better!

    I was at at workshop this past weekend and they talked about authors having blogs and what-not. The editors who were there said that if usually, if they are interested in requesting a partial/full MS and that person does have a blog, they do check it out to see if they can learn more about the person. I never thought about that until they said it. A few did say that one several occasions, looking at the persons blog did change their minds about contacting them.

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  11. Anissa, you crack me up!! And who needs to call when we have texting? Hooray for texts!!! Haha! yay, let's be friends!!

    Eva, thank you!! I love that: Life through a filter. So true! And, perhaps, I may just end up publishing that post after all. If I can get up the nerve. Ha!

    Melissa, you're so funny...I'm such a dork, and it just so happens I love dorks. So dork away, my awesome friend.

    Tricia, oohhhh, a communal brand. Perfect. Let's do it. And we'll hire Russell Brand to be our spokesperson. He'll outfreak us all.

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  12. Sara, OMG, I'm rolling over here...imagining you trying to double cross your legs. And for some reason, I see you sticking your tongue out, concentrating really hard, and then falling over. Haha!! Thanks for the image. It'll carry me through the day. But if it's any consolation, it's not really fun (much), and I probably can do it cuz I'm missing like a knee cap or something. It's abnormal, I bet.

    Simon, unfortuntely I just burned my freak flag. Your advice came too late. I think I will have to sew a new one, maybe? But the only flag seamstress I know is totally covered in tattoos and metal horns--and it's quite possible she makes clothes from people...that shirt I saw hanging on her line looked awfully suspicious. I'm at an impasse, I think.

    Jemi, you are so kind. I just adore you. So genuine and sweet. But I think we need to start a movement to ban sappy commercials. It makes it awfully hard to function for us sensitive types.

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  13. I love this! Thanks for sharing! Scarily...I relate to almost ALL of those! And I agree with Jemi...just made me like you all the more!

    I honestly haven't given much thought to my online "persona" and probably should. But I know myself too well - it seems like even more work to worry about how I look to others online...nope, in the end, I'm dorky, rambling, overly sharing me. I hope it comes across well, but if not, I'm too lazy to change it. How horrible is that?

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  14. Liza, alright! Another double leg crosser! Love that I'm in such good company. And you may be right, because I am always cold--so perhaps I'm merely trying to stay warm? And I think you're onto something with the hiring fairs--perhaps the more I force myself to confront strangers, it'll get easier to be less hermity.

    Kimberly, I hadn't given it a single thought until I'd read Daisy's article. It's kind of sad, though--the thought that everything you write can come back to bite you on the tush. Like for example, I had to thing twice. Cuz I almost wrote arse instead of tush, and then thought better of it. Wait...Doh!

    Kelly, that's scary!! You always hope that your blog will entice them, not the other way around (gulp!). That's good to know, I think. Although, now I wonder what it was about those blogs that changed their minds? I suppose if they like you work and your voice in the query, then hopefully, they are more likely to like your blog. Hmmm...definitely something to ponder.

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  15. Kristi, it's perfect!!! I love you as you are. So I don't think you have to worry about it. I like you dorky, rambling, and overly sharing, cuz that's totally meeeeeee!! Dorky writing, oversharing, ramblers unite!!

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  16. This is a fabulous post! #7 had me laughing. And I like people who are "real" on their blogs, and you seem very real to me!

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  17. First off, it is a pleasure to meet you Carol. Second, I'm with Eva pg-13 sounds interesting but I can understand, thinking about it my posts so far have been pretty tame as well but I'm still getting a feeling for it. I think I'm way more offensive at times (at least among friends) in person than I am here. Maybe this is my way of rebelling against a mind that I let free flow with some pretty twisted outcomes?

    You seem like a pretty cool person too! Just need a push here and there maybe? I don't know, we just met.

    As to your questions I don't think I've really figured out my persona online just yet. I just kind of force myself to get on here everyday and at least write something till I get in the habit for it because I need a creative outlet that I've been lacking the last year or two. What defines me? I'm an instigator I suppose at heart. That's always been a part of how I've identified myself. I like to push people into conflict not only for my amusement (although that too), but because its how I'm used to working out problems. I could never be a diplomat but I could be a lawyer. That's a bit of a ramble but as you said, dorky ramblers unite!

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  18. Elana, thank you! That's very kind. It's not always easy to remain true to yourself.

    Christopher, same to you! I think you're at least a step ahead of the game as you're giving the whole "branding/persona" bit a thought. Took me a while to find my voice online as well. And I'm still trying to navigate my way through this blog business. Ultimately, I want to still be myself, but I have to be thoughtful of the young adult audience that I write for (hence the pg-13 stamp) while also maintaining a mostly adult following online. Waters can be a bit choppy sometimes, especially since my writing voice, and my ME voice do not always mesh. Sounds like your blog is going to be fun for you. I'll have to do some further investigation ;)

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  19. You know yourself more than most people! And you have a leg up in that you are honest, and not just with other people but with yourself, which can be much harder.

    Your thoughts on online branding cause me to take pause. When I started blogging, it really was just for me, since I didn't have followers. I just wrote what I wanted for me, and thought it would be cool if other people checked in once and a while.

    Now that I have regular visitors I have to and want to think about them when I write. Is it something useful/helpful/insightful etc, and even humorous? Is it worth their while to drop in? The dynamic definitely changes.

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  20. We sound like the same person (this is Laura, by the way). I think we will get along very well! The whole blogging experience has been a new one for me. Every single word I type I consider then re-consider then re-consider again. Even comments. It's intimidating to put things out there.

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  21. Elle, Oh, how honesty can hurt sometimes!! But thank you! Isn't it funny how your perspective changes when you know you have an audience? It's sort of like when you're in the car alone and you sing at the top of your lungs to Taylor Swift (Shhhh...don't tell), maybe even put in some rad, dance moves, but haul the boss to lunch in there with you, and suddenly, you're listening to classical music, not an awkward dance move in sight. Haha!

    Lisa and Laura, Oh yes, I agree! I adore you guys! I'm definitely the same way, too--suddenly now everything I put out there is reconsidered, perhaps overly much. It's a bit frustrating, actually. I don't think I've ever quite censored myself this much with my writing. But all for the good of the cause, I guess. *Sigh....

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  22. Dude, so many of those apply to me, too! Especially 2 (which I think you've probably realized by now), 3, 6, 10 (so comfy!), and 11. The loyal thing goes so far with me--but it goes both ways. Like Mr. Darcy, once someone is on my bad side (though it takes FOREVER to actually get there) they are pretty much there for life. But if you're on my good side, you'd have to kill my kitten to make me hate you. Often times I'm far more loyal than my friends are, and I always wonder why they can't be as loyal to me as I am to them.

    As for my online personality... I think I'm even more guarded online than I am in real life. I put everything beneath this veil of quirky fantasy fan who only lives half her life in the real world :-P

    I'm pretty sure everyone thinks I'm insane... hopefully in a good way. Haha.

    What a great list of facts! <3

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  23. Seriously? I think you might be my sister from another mister. Nearly every single one of those describes me too. From the insecure sensitivity to loving my alone time to loving my friends but not always being the best at keeping in contact (but I'm always there for them if they call). I'm also a texting junkie (I think it's because I don't feel like texting is as intrusive into their lives as a phone call...probably has something to do with the insecurity thing).

    I can't even contemplate going to a writer's conference...unless maybe we could go to one together and then we could hole up in a room together, convinced no one else likes us and secretly worried that the other doesn't *really* like us. LOL.

    When it comes to my on-line "brand"? Hmmm...that's a tough one. I sense an idea for a blog post of my own on this one. :)

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  24. Hmm....Always thought we were kin, but now I know it for sure.... :)

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  25. Alexandra, it just so happens I love your online personality, but I'm coming to really like the real you, too. I know this because I find myself wanting to adopt you like I do with all my friends...hahahha! Seriously, I would totally have loved having you as a little sis. For one thing, I don't have one, but you're awesome, and I see so much of myself in you. As for being a bit insane, I think it's pretty much expected from writers. I say go with it and live up to people's expectations. It's way fun to be a bit nutty anyway.

    Rhonda, OMG, that's like the perfect plan!!!! I would love to go to a conference with you! Any plans to go to the SCBWI in July? You have to tell me to any you go to. We'll totally hook up. I mean, you know, in a sisterly way. haha. Cuz I could definitely use a crying buddy.

    Wendy, totally!!! I'm fairly convinced I'm the northern hemisphere version of you, except maybe something about the freakish cold here seems to have made me a bit crazier than you. Either that, or you hide the crazy really well. Hahaha! Oh my goodness, how I adore you.

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  26. As much as you love to take readers by surprise, they love to be taken by surprise.

    Sounds like the perfect relationship.

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  27. Jennie, thank you for that. I really hope so.

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  28. You know, I didn't guess the lack of self-confidence, but the warmth, loyalty, setimentality - it shows. I already knew that about you. :) You do portray yourself online as very confident.

    My online persona is pretty much like my real-life persona. I'm a bit shy, a bit opinionated, and ravenously curious. (I think I spelled that wrong?) I'm extremely passionate, and I'm always either very, very happy, or very very unhappy - never in between.

    Really the only thing I do different online is try to curb my quick tongue a bit - because it gets me in trouble. I'm able to curb it because typing words makes the words transfer slowly enough I can think about them before I hit ENTER. I'm shy, but I'm also very direct, and my opinion flies out a bit too unwillingly in real life.

    Great post. :)

    ~ Corra

    from the desk of a writer

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  29. Great Post!!! I look forward to reading more!

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  30. Corra, you are just tooooo sweet. How I adore you already! Thank you for your kind words. And I have to say, I've really enjoyed getting to know your online persona. I think you've assesed it very well, although I don't see you as shy or even as opinionated as you think you come across. I've found your posts to be very straightforward, certainly, but quite insightful. And enjoyable!! But I'm like you, I tend to be rather opinionated...it's not always easy to keep my thoughts to myself. Thank goodness for editing. Although, I've found that the posts I let sit for at least a day or two before publishing tend to come as as more agreeable. Anyway, so happy to get to know you. Thank you so much for your comments.

    Jen, thank you!!! I just read your review on The Lovely Bones! I only read the book, but your review makes me want to see the movie, as well. Looking forward to your posts!

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  31. This post was so honest, and it made me think about my online persona. I think I'm ultra-guarded and -professional online. I'm funnier and stranger in person.

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  32. Medeia, thank you! I'm glad it was useful for you. I think you're great--I can imagine how cool you are in real life ;)

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