Consistency Smishtency?

I gotta grow up.

This is not an idea I’m comfortable with. Not at all. In my quest to figure out how to increase my reach, my brand as an author and my sales, I enlisted the extremely affordable help of a marketing major. Seemed like a good idea at the time: she’s young, smart, energetic. And cheap. What more could I ask for?

Until she gave me my first prognosis: you, sir, are inconsistent.

Inconsistent? What? That ain’t…well…ok…fine. She was right.

My Little Helper told me that my blog, my Facebook fanpage, my communications all needed to match the tone and perspective of the things I write professionally. She called this building my brand. Surprisingly, the ladies from the Indie Book Collective said the same thing in their Dollars and Sense book. Now this presents a problem for me: what I write (right now) is a little heavy, a little dark, a little wicked but the person I am is snarky and funny and mean. It doesn’t match. It isn’t consistent.

Back when I was the neighborly insurance adjuster, a colleague of mine asked me to accompany him on a claim. The policyholder was a hoarder—the house was bursting with trash, broken items, and refuse (back then, we called them “garbage houses”)—and they’d suffered a fire. My co-worker was having a tough time working with the client to determine a replacement value for things that had no value.

When I arrived we were paraded through a narrow pathway of shoulder-high newspapers and magazines and while my co-worker met with the client, I took a little tour of charred remains of the trash outside. One of the things that caught me was the remains of a gas grill. The platform on the bottom and the post that held the firebox were intact but the firebox itself was gone. Completely gone.

I asked the policyholder (whom we’ll call PH here) about it: “Hey, umm, what happened to the grill?”

PH: It was damaged in the fire.

Me (sharing a look with my co-worker): Seriously? Are you saying the grill was damaged by fire?

PH: Yep.

So I need you to understand the circumstances. This entire conversation took place in Minnesota. In January. My Minnesotan friends will attest that it’s tough enough to get a fire started in January in Minnesota, much less get one burning hot enough to do any real damage to anything. So I said:

“Are you suggesting that a fire damaged the thing designed to hold fire? That’s really your story? Come on, man.”

She maintained her story but it was inconsistent.

So I’m all for saying what I think. I don’t know what to think so this time I’m asking a question: how? I’m a storyteller first—I don’t know how to make it consistent across everything I create. I don’t know how to speak with solely one voice. And I don’t know if I should. And would you actually want me to?

That’s the question for today: you know me, you know what I have to say, some of you have even read my book. Do they all have to look and feel relatively the same? I think My Little Helper is right; I’d love to know what you think.

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