“Tell us about yourself” is definitely an open-ended statement and one that may bring on dry mouth, sweaty palms, and panic attacks that pound inside our chests. Then, when one chooses to dabble in careers that lend themselves to shining a spotlight on them, I say, “Be ready.” The time will come and mine is here where I’m asked, “Tell the readers about you.”
Reading my books will give you the stats for age, gender, birth date, degrees, careers, ethic race, and yada yada yada. All this can be found on my book covers. Now I’m asked to discuss more deeply what makes me the person I am as a writer. The trendy word is “brand” yourself. Wow, that is painful in figurative and literal senses. Yet, I get it. My “brand” is the qualities a reader discovers in my books and what emotional messages readers may experience through my writings. My roles in life “brand” me through those qualities and the way in which I have lived my life. Trust me folks. These qualities will come out in our writing regardless of the genres and regardless of the labeling, “fiction.” Big chunks of personal truths are discovered in all my writings. For an introduction of me to you readers, three qualities best describe my brand for living life.
First, let me pass on to you some of the “roles” that I have lived and some yet to be realized. In no particular order, Sandra L. Russell aka E. C, Clare, Oma Russell, Sandy Farkle, S. L. Russell, is wife, mom, lover, Oma, teacher, counselor, mentor, trainer, speaker, writer, daughter, sister, friend…The list is infinitesimal, much like your roles in life and they tend to brand and define us as human odysseys who evolve into ever changing and developing roles in our life scripts.
Lastly, let me pluck out three “qualities” that stand out in the roles through which I function. How convenient that my ABC blocks spell out three qualities that function as my foundation for living life. At the risk of being labeled arrogant, full of myself, inflated ego, and those kinds of adjectives, I ignored those nasty voices and forged forward with these three qualities that have seen me through, “The best of times. The worst of times.” As described by Dickens in, “A Tale of Two Cities.” So appropriate to where I am in my life and discussion about me, a fuller excerpt from this epic introduction to one of the greatest writings of all time is an excellent fit. “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. It was the age of wisdom. It was the age of foolishness…It was the season of Light. It was the season of Darkness. It was the spring of hope. It was the winter of despair…” Get “Goose Pricklies” just typing this which was written in 1775 and continues to be quoted in the 21st century. Do you think Dickens wrote with the objective to be quoted throughout the ages? What would he say about himself and his writing?
Pause. Feeling intimidated to move on with my qualities which are: A for Ambitious, B for Brave, and C for Courageous. However, in my world, during the good times, bad times, Light times, and Dark times, these qualities carry me forward.
The definition of ambitious that applies specifically to my writing is: “having or showing a strong desire and determination to succeed.” Let’s say, “Like old age, writing ain’t for wimps.” Long since I have stopped counting the rejections for my manuscripts. The first dozen or so is the worse. Then one settles into the routine. And that temporary malady known as Fame Writing, has long since been cured simply by reevaluating reasons for writing. The point is that the ambitious writer never stops. What is the reason for subjecting one’s self to rejection and pain repeatedly? For me, it is simply that, “I write to live. I live to write.” My ambition has motivated me to succeed through each book that I bravely put in the hands of readers.
What a sneaky sag way to my next quality, B is for Brave. The best writer, the worse writer, and all writers in between are brave if they have published and placed a book in the hand of readers who will judge them. The aspiring writer, wantabe writers, experimenting writers who voluntarily relinquish their literary work into the hands of another individual, book club, friend are brave. My bravery has led me to grovel, scratch, and labor to have several adult and children’s’ books published. That took a heaping bunch of bravery, endurance, and tenacity. Were all the judgments positive and warm fuzzies? No. There were some cold pricklies, too. That’s when we reach into our survival pouch and bring out the bravery and his cousin, C is for Courage and continue our writing to live.
Courage has a simple definition that wallops a powerful punch. Courage as defined: ability to do something that frightens one. Throughout my writing career and during the hundreds of book events: signings, talks, class visits, book clubs, community groups, arts & crafts fairs, readings, presentations, guest speaking, local coffee shops, FEAR is my constant companion. Why am I frightened? I may not live up to a job well done. That judgment is coming my way.
I recall my fist ever book signing at Books-A-Million. The bookstore had set up a beautiful table and the folks were starting to gather and pick up my book. Some would give an “ah.” Others would toss my book down and proclaim,”Just another one of those cook books.” (How insensitive. This was my dead mother’s life story.) My legs were wobbly and I had turned around several times while on my way to the event. Something inside like the voice of courage would have me turn that car back around going toward the signing. The book was penned under E. C. Clare. Just as I had warmed up to the crowd and was answering questions, feeling more comfortable, the desk continued to page E. C. Clare to the information desk. I ignored it of course since my name is Sandra L. Russell. One elderly, twinkle-eyed lady, who was holding my book in her hands, taped me on the shoulder and reminded me that I was being paged. Then, I realized my pen name was E. C. Clare. Awkward moment? Yes. Only one recall of the many times I have had to dig deeply for that “ability to do something that frightens one.”
Writing has been a public pursuit for eighteen years. Yet, through reviewing my life and how I came to become a published writer, the epiphany broke through that writing has been a part of me since before I was born per Psalms 139: 13-16. “For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works…” God has appointed me to write and write is what I do to live,
Wrapping up about me brands me as a relatable individual for remarkable would not be an adjective to describe the time spent with me. Sharing ideas and being open to different points of view with an edgy conversation style in both prose and personal conversation best describes me, the person living several roles in life and displaying three qualities that reflect my living and my writing: A is for Ambitious; B is for Brave; C is for courage.