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Your Identity is Fluid

Your Identity is Fluid

When discussing the misconceptions of identity currently littering much of the organisational tracts on the subject, Kevin Sinclair, an Organisational Coach based in Newcastle, New South Wales, and I recently had a brief online conversation about this article written by the philosopher, Julian Baggini. We agreed that (a) the literature fails dismally to capture the idea of the self being fluid and (b) comically (and perhaps tragically) regards fluidity of self as being emotionally stressful and psychologically harmful rather than a necessary and core element of what it means to be human. 

I've written stuff on the idea of a fluid self previously, but have failed to articulate it with any clarity. I always get caught up in socio-psychological jargon that hinders rather than helps the reader. I think it is an important, perhaps vital, topic for those experiencing the pressures of contemporary organisational life. So, not being able to explain it clearly is hugely frustrating. So what to do? 

Obviously, like any good son, I ask my mother for help!

Among her many talents, my mother is a writer. The below is something her publisher asked her to write as part of a website strategy promoting their authors. Ostensibly, it has been written to promote her upcoming book, Remembering Rose. It also achieves the following: 

  1. Explains her writing method, which I hope will be interesting to one of the LinkedIn groups to which I belong, The UNfluencers
  2. Magnificently captures the complexities, nuances and mutability of identity creation, management and narration that Julian Baggini writes about.

Mum, I'm hugely proud of you. Readers, I hope you enjoy. 

On Writing and Identity

My publisher has suggested that I and my fellow authors start the year off by introducing ourselves properly on the Books We Love blog. It's a much taller order than it seems. It depends is the only answer I can give about who I am and what I do.

Although I'm always a wife, a mother, a grandmother, an aunt, a cousin, a friend, a colleague, and a neighbour, I'm also a writer, a reader, a gardener, a cook, a dog owner, a traveller, a walker, a carer, a Yoga practitioner, and a whole lot of other things besides, and that's before I get on to control freak, micro-organizer and (you might already have guessed this) list-maker! Then there's my working life  - the jobs I had, the things I learned - but I'm not even going there.

I'm no different from anyone else of course. We are all made up of the little bits of  everything that are our day-to-day lives. It's how we form the memories, some bad, some good, that we reminisce about as the years go by. Oh hang on a minute...I'm a writer (it said so in the list) so I am a little bit different after all. It's why I store all those experiences in my sub-conscious until I'm ready to retrieve them and download them onto the pages of my latest manuscript.

I'm not proud of it, but it's how it is. When I travel most of the details of the journey remain lodged in my brain. A new environment is uploaded to my sub-conscious lock, stock and barrel and sits there until I need it.  Time spent with my grandchildren, visits to family, walking the dog, talking with friends, shopping for a neighbour, even visiting someone in all goes into the swirling cauldron of memories that I call upon when I'm writing.

Sometimes an experience will trigger an idea for a story and when that happens, it will, if left to its own devices, weave itself around the memories I have stored in my head, rejecting some of them and trying others for size until the outline of a new story emerges with very little conscious effort on my part. It's not until I fire up my lap top that the real effort of joining it all together begins.

In Reluctant Date the trigger was a place I stayed on a holiday. This somehow wove itself into another landscape 3,000 miles away, picking up a hero and heroine on its journey. In Mending Jodie's Heart the idea for the story was prompted by an actual event involving horses and disabled children, which, before I knew it, had turned into the When Paths Meet trilogy. Then, in my latest book, Miss Locatelli, half-forgotten memories of Italy forced themselves back into my consciousness as soon as I realized my heroine had to visit Florence. A magazine article about a jeweller triggered that one.

When I look back at the dozen or so books I've written so far there is a real bonus, however, because every one of them has special memories woven into the story. None of them are about me or my family although, inevitably, some of the characters will display traits I've observed in the people I know, but the story still resonates with me on a personal level. The children in my books often behave in the same way my own children and grandchildren did when they were small, and then there are the animals. Dogs, horses, birds...even the wild ones...all trigger a memory. The grown up characters too. I rarely spend long describing any of them. They are just part of a continuing story of memories that I like to think helps to make my stories real.

So that's who I am. Someone who is made up of little bits of a lot and who never knows which bit she is going to wake up to.  Today it was the micro-managing/list-making persona. Tomorrow it's grandchildren day, so cooking, cuddling and playing games will dominate along with supervising homework and listening closely to whatever they want to tell me.  With any luck I'll wake up to my writing persona the following day and by then I'll have more memories to call upon, so when the book I'm writing at the moment, Remembering Rose, is published at the end of June, I will be able to read it and remember.

If anyone is interested in reading more of her work, her blog is here and her publisher's site (where the original blog above resides) is here

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The Ironic Manager seriously rethinks how organisations work at the most fundamental level and offers a variety of solutions for businesses struggling to cope with the ambiguity and stresses inherent to contemporary organisational conditions of constant change.

Richard has been helping businesses and people deal with leadership, management, communication, technology and change for over twenty years through his training, coaching, speaking and consulting services. 

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Over twenty years helping people managing change understand why resistance happens and develop quality vital communication skills that aid successful business transformation.


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