Monday, October 17, 2011
Today I finally launched what I call my "writer website" at nicolebreit.com.
I think of my site more as a a landing pad than a launching pad: the place where people who may already be interested in my writing can go to find out a bit more about the person who holds the pen.
Putting the site together was both easy and difficult. The easy part was coming up with a concept and finding a photographer and make up artist to make me convey something specific in the photos, which were to be an essential element of the site. The imagery was conceived to serve as a kind of portal, to lead the viewer to each page - the photos creating a feeling or mood or scene that described as much or more about the writer and the writing than the non-visual content. Creating the photos was fun, and again I would like to thank Alexis Desaulniers-Lea for working with me on each and every idea and whim that came to my mind, and bringing amazing ideas and inspirations of her own. The profile photo on this blog is testament to her talent. Tiffany Morton also needs to be acknowledged for making me look good - and also for being game for anything I wanted to do to create the image of who I am when I write.
The difficult part was curiously enough the part I am supposed to be good at: writing. Writing about yourself is hard, but writing about yourself as though you are a special kind of person, an artist, is much harder. In the end I decided to abandon the general formula followed by other writers, in part because the formula was not working for me. I am short on credentials and recognition and rich with photos, which is the opposite of what writers with websites seem to have.
Of course, there are credentials, and there are credentials. What *are* the credentials for being a writer? Writing has been something I have done and have kept doing for a very long time. It might be the thing I do best of all. But only recently have I decided to pursue traditional paths of "sharing" vis-a-vis established avenues of publication. So what do I say to convince anyone who lands on my site that I actually am a writer, let alone one worth caring about? Does it matter that I have a degree in English Literature, or that I graduated with distinction? Some of the writers or their publishers think so, and list much about a writer's educational background on their websites. I think the fact that I studied such a variety of courses in my undergraduate days says more about me as a writer than either of my bachelor degrees; that someone with an interest in other languages, visual art, art history and other cultures must possess a general inquisitiveness about the world - a good quality in the kind of person who wants you to believe she might have something interesting to say, or that her scribbles contain an original thought or two.
I decided that it made more sense to create a site that conveys the idea that you can be a writer no matter how much or little you've "accomplished" in the eyes of any established writer-making body. I've sometimes read with wonder and confusion certain pieces that are selected as not just publishable, but more publishable than others. I have come to the conclusion that there are schools and tastes and mandates and biases and budgets at work in every decision made in favour or against a work of art. That this has been the case in every period of history, and likely will be the case going forward until the end of time. How frequently an artist's work is "chosen" or "selected" isn't a measure of the quality of an artist's work, and doesn't decide for the rest of us whether a person is an artist or not; we all know that many artists are simply not recognized in their own time. Listing all the honours I may or may not hold doesn't say much about who I am as a writer or artist, or why you should care about my work.
And so the approach I've taken is to try to reveal something about what I believe about myself as a writer. I tried to make the site an art project and a functional address for a writer's online "home" that is personal, approachable, and also visually expressive and interesting. I wanted to describe myself as someone with a deep passion, experience and maybe a little bit of talent or skill; someone with some recent creative progress on this late blooming path I've begun to walk. In other words, a picture of the literal and spiritual truth of this writer called Nicole Breit.
In the end I hope my site conveys something of the person who made the poems, articles and one day, books that I would like to share. I hope I have succeed in moving somewhere beyond bios written by the first person in the third person, or too much emphasis on who has decided what I write is good or bad or great. That with this site I have moved closer to how or why the writing happens, to something about what goes on inside the heart or soul of the writer. A tall order perhaps, and now that I've written this post I really do hope my own little site meets in some small way my own hopes for what would make any artist's website interesting and noteworthy. If you have feedback on nicolebreit.com, or know of a website that really conveys or demonstrates something truly authentic about another artist or writer, please send it my way.