Building a BRAND with SWAG

I found an intriguing article written exactly one year ago today. To mark the anniversary of Elise L. Connors’ article, I need to examine my writing style by engaging in an introspective search of my own branding. As an aspiring author, I am constantly writing with passion. Writing is an obsession, an ambition, an aspiration, and is the essence of my being and my survival.

As such, I have been writing without worrying about branding or doing it with swag. I am borrowing these words, brand and swag, from Connors in the context that she used them in her article. I confess that I never paid attention to brand and swag in terms of writing.

It is now time to excogitate. Assuming that I do have that BRAND and that I built it with SWAG, what would the package look like exactly? I presume that after I have built my brand, I would like to maintain it for the duration of my “new-found” career. Branding oneself is a long-term goal and process and relies on audience perception. I do not know if I have an audience yet, considering that my Kickstarter project did not start; pun intended shamelessly.

I will now attempt to examine the acronym Connors created in order to gauge my progress in the branding-with-swag endeavor. She states that “Success as an author depends not only on writing a quality book (which is VERY important) but also how you are able to connect with your audience.”

As Connor’s defines it, brand is more than my name. It is my identity. It is how the general or reading public views me. BRAND stands for:

B oldness (You have to be able to say things others are afraid to.)

R elevance (Are you talking about the things your audience wants to hear about?)

A nd

N otable (Are you saying things that are “newsworthy”?)

D edication (Are you dedicated to yourself and your audience?)”

What is SWAG? This isn’t the swag that normally comes to mind. This is SWAG:

S ophisticated (Are you offering high-quality content? Big tip: proofreading is important.)

W orthy (Are you doing anything to deserve the notoriety you’re seeking?)

A nd

G rateful (Are you appreciative for your audience?)”

Taking the first word and dissecting it, I would say that I definitely am bold. I do not flinch from situations, and I say it like it is, which tends to contradict with the expectations of people. I try to make my postings relevant, always looking at the grand picture, always seeing how my postings will benefit people, and trying to find out what readers want. It is difficult to please every preference, but my aim is to try.

I will help Elise L. Connors a little by changing the word, “And, to Accessible. In acknowledgement of that substitution, I make my postings accessible by linking my blogs and other literary efforts to social media and other viable avenues.  

If you visit my Yahoo! Voices postings, you will discover articles about people who are making strides in their different fields. In that sense, these are notable people and notable topics, newsworthy people and newsworthy topics.

The final component of BRAND is dedication. I am a loyal, committed, and dye-in-the-wool kind of person. I thrived in education for decades, have stayed in the same volunteer capacities for decades, and I am unswerving in my devotion to my writing and my love of it, which has lasted almost four decades. It is that love of writing that gripped me at an early age, caused me to obtain two degrees in it, and I am poised to obtain a third one.

For the next acronym, SWAG, I want to believe that by virtue of having a Master of Arts degree in journalism and by being an editor, a freelancer, a book reviewer, and a copy writer–among other attributes, that my content is sophisticated in quality.

Anything we put out in cyberspace or publish brings with it the positive and the negative. The question is, “Are you doing anything to deserve the notoriety you’re seeking?” Notoriety carries both a negative connotation and a negative denotation. I want to see my glass as half full and take the good that exposure brings to me. I hope that I am worthy of fame and should deserve it when it arrives by dint of my hardwork.

Again, I am going to substitute the word, “And,” with another adjective that begins with “A.” That word is “Adventurous.” Am I allowing myself the courage to explore my creativity and take it as far as audacity will allow? Although several colleagues have recognized creativity in my intellectual products, I hope to grow in my ability to drizzle morsels of words with different tasty confetti that will entice all to partake in and savor the cornucopia of literary offerings that I craft.

The last word on the list is grateful(ness). I want to believe that I am appreciative of my audience. As I check my readership, I find it increasing daily, weekly, and cumulatively. I am eternally grateful to all who have stopped by and all who will visit. Please leave a mark of your presence by putting down comments so that I can express my gratitude formally.

I want to thank Elise L. Connors for providing the foundation for today’s posting, and I hope to Pay It Forward by returning the same type of favor to several people. As my friend and critic, Cynthia Adams, said, “Frances Ohanenye is a writer with a finger on the pulse of creativity.” I could not have said it better myself. Thank you, Cynthia, for always being my sounding board.

Exploring Genrelific® Situations

Words come to me out of the blue as inventions. For example, I used the word “fantabulous,” for the first time to my students in 1997 without realizing that someone else had documented its use in 1957. I invent words continuously and use them personally–blended words, unique words, and so on, but I never venture to clamor for the general public to herald their birth until now.

This morning, as I brewed my herbal tea and pondered over the topic for today’s blog, I sought to take stock of my versatility in the literary realm. I am a writer of many genres, meaning that I am prolific in those genres. In search of the ONE word that would capture my uniqueness and brand me at the same time, I (Frances Ohanenye) invented “genrelific” on February 7, 2012.

I went to the Lexico Publishing Company and to Merriam-Webster to find out how I can add my newly coined word into their respective dictionaries. In summation, usage is the passport for inclusion into that privileged class. Therefore, I encourage everyone to begin to use the word “genrelific.” The more people who use it, the higher the chance of my word being included in any dictionary. I searched the internet, and it does not exist.

For example, you could say, “My friend, Frances Ohanenye, is very genrelific. She writes across many genres.” Or, “My brother is a genrelific reader and does not restrict himself to one genre.”

I admit that my motive may seem self-serving for now, but ultimately, my goal is for the general reading public to describe writers who cross the boundaries of the literary world with one word instead of with a string of wordy morsels. “Genrelific” captures the literati, that group of authors, writers, and other people involved with literature and the arts.

I am realistic and patient. The process of inclusion takes weeks, months, and even years. I understand. I am not myopic at all either. I see the far-reaching use of the word, genrelific. We speak of types of art, movies/cinematography, music, and wherever categories and sub-categories exist within an industry. The applicability of the word is limitless.

To establish ownership of my coined word for evidentiary purpose, I took the liberty of corresponding with those two companies to queue myself on their waiting list and introduce my brainchild as well. Now, let us get back to my “genrelific” self. I am prolific in these genres: children’s, young adult (YA), mystery, science fiction, short story, poetry, religious/inspirational, and adult/realistic/women’s. I want to delve into creating plays/drama, mythology, romance, fairytale, historical fiction, folktale–which my father used to tell us a lot of, and others.

Kathleen Hall Jamieson‘s “Antecedent Genre as Rhetorical Constraint” declares that rhetorical situation determines discourse as well as antecedent genres. I admire Jamieson’s succinctness because past definitions of genres still control our present analysis, appreciation, and emulation. “Antecedent genres are genres of the past used as a basis to shape and form current rhetorical responses.”

I have penned at least one volume in each of the nine genres listed above, and some genres can boast of at least eight creations in my literary repertoire. I have many ideas marinating for many more explorations within each of the types of literature in which I have traveled.

That I have not dabbled into the romance genre purely as a writer is not for lack of desire; no pun intended. The muse has not called me yet. To be a writer, one must first be a reader. I devoured at least 100 of Barbara Cartland’s romance novels and by other authors, enough to inspire me despite myself.

I consumed at least 70 of René Brabazon Lodge Alan Raymond’s, (famously and lovingly known as James Hadley Chase) crime fiction novels, not to mention many from Agatha Christie, Sherlock Holmes, Ian Fleming (the creator of James Bond), and several more.

I read and memorized texts of classic novels (Charles Dickens, Jonathan Swift, Robert Louis Stevenson, Jane Austen, Horatio Alger, Charlotte Bronte, Guy de Maupassant, Nathaniel Hawthorne, David Henry Thoreau) and William Shakespeare’s dramas, the springboard for my rapture with literature.

I nourished my soul with Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, Hilaire Belloc, Kofi Awoonor, and other poignant authors and poets. As a matter of fact, one year, I read at least 180 novels, not teacher-mandated readings, required texts, or textbooks, simply self-chosen glorious novels.

Now I write furiously. I write many genres and can write all genres. However, my creation relies on inspiration cascading like confetti rather than by a self-inflicted time-table. Who knows, when the inspiration floods my brain for romance novels, I will create that genre as a full bloom or any other genre my mind chooses to birth.

The type of literature into which I will never seek membership is horror. The simple reason is that I do not wish to stain or sell my soul because I may not be able to buy it back or get it back from the dark forces that inhabit that sphere. Superstitious? May be, but I have read both Steven King and Edgar Allan Poe, and they both scared the living daylights out of me and my house.

Venturing into many genres allows me to dabble into unrestricted spheres. I perceive myself as a living testimony of Richard Coe’s words when he said that “tyranny of genre” constrains individual creativity (Coe 188). Therefore, I allow myself to mingle within genres, cross their boundaries, shake hands with their inhabitants, and dine luxuriously among them.

In my mystery novels, romance abounds. In one YA novel, religion trumpets out of the mouths of youths like the Sermon on the Mount, and religious-infused allusions thrive. In my science fiction short story, realism and fiction fight for supremacy, but because I want it classified as a science fiction endeavor, that genre triumphs. As Amy Devitt states, “A genre is named because of its formal markers” (Devitt 10), and I wanted that story formally marked as a science fiction.

If I have failed to make it known before, unique words feed my brain like food and my brain feeds me unique words. Today will go down in famousness as the birthday of the word, “genrelific,” another synergy for the literary world.

©2012Genrelific by FrancesOhanenye