I have spent the majority of my quarantined experience holed up in my little rectangle of a bedroom, connecting to the world through my computer's screen and keyboard. Primarily, for this first time, I have been almost solely focused on growing the "business" of my writing.
None of this comes naturally to me. I am not a fan of talking myself up, of shouting from the rooftops, "here I am! Here is what I have accomplished! Notice me!" I don't like the idea of being perceived as being pompous or stuck up, or self-important. I worry about this every time I post a new blog here, that the words I use are too old-fashioned and too formal, that people will see me as trying too hard to fit into some mold of what an author should look like online when the truth is that I just really like flowery language and imagery and big sweeping reflections. I am afraid that my wording will make me come across as ingenuine.
The reality of it is that in order to make anything of yourself as a writer, as in any other profession, you need to establish some kind of credibility. Publishers need to see that you have a reason for writing what you write, and people who are willing to read it. Event coordinators need to know that you can draw a crowd and that you'll be a beneficial exhibit wherever you're trying to go. In the modern world, that means having a following on social media. It means running your own website and having professional accounts that are there for the lone reason of promotion. You need to get your name out there for people to see. You need to make an impact. You need to be vain.
So here I am, writing a blog post for a website that I own, whose URL is my own name. I'll share links to this post on the social media pages that also use my name as a handle, and it'll appear alongside my picture, professionally shot and clean, the image I curate of myself as a Professional.
As for the person behind the headshot and fancy words?
Hi. My name is Catherine, but I've gone by Cat since I was fourteen because it was easier to write on my school papers. I almost never wear my glasses when I'm at home and comfortable, because I have the terrible habit of smudging them at every opportunity with no idea how I accomplished it. I don't often wear that nice sweater and lipstick; most of the time it's an old high school theater shirt, and I haven't touched my makeup brushes in about six months. Most of my daily writing consists of drafts of projects that I'll edit for untold hours, and messages in the group chat I have with my best friends, who constantly tease me for my atrocious spelling.
All of that being said, I am proud of the professional version of myself because although it cuts out a lot of those things, it is still very much me. I do love my glasses (although the frames have changed since this picture was taken) and that sweater and a good red lipstick. I do love the name I've picked for myself, and seeing it become a brand is as exhilarating as it is terrifying. I like the idea of people being excited to read the things I write and loving my creations as much as I do. I like making people happy, and like anyone else, I like being able to show off a little bit. My works are the things I wanted to read, and when I saw that they did not exist yet, created so that I could, and I am happy to share them with you so that you can be excited with me that they exist.
So though it is uncomfortable, I will continue to work on this partial image, I will tout my work on professional accounts, and I will be contented to do it because although it is not the whole picture, it is an honest picture. And an honest picture seems like an excellent thing to build a business upon.