August 30, 2011

The Risk of Typecast or What’s in a Name?

Who are you? What do you do?

Who am I? What do I do?

How do you describe yourself? By your name, role in life or your job? How do we define ourselves? Do we even need to?

There are books written (usually for women) about finding yourself. The strap is something like; daughter, sister, wife, mother… now it’s time to be you. But, who are you? As the Caterpillar asked Alice.

When I became a hypnotherapist in the early nineties I happily called myself that even though I usually had to follow it with a description or listen to comments like, ‘oh best not look into your eyes,’ or ‘bet you can’t hypnotise me.’ Because that's what people say to hypnotists. Still!

As my practice grew I added in other things ranging from coaching and speaking to hosting workshops, teaching, to being involved in the more esoteric subjects. Later on I became an author and now also a publisher. So many job titles to list on a business card I decided to bundle them. Holistic therapist and muse seemed to cover it. Or, so I thought until Jane Alexander wrote, ‘she describes herself as ‘a holistic therapist and muse’ which would, under normal circumstances, make me narrow my eyes and pick up my foot.’ Oh! She does go on to say I’m alright but…

Back to the list or pick one and stick to it? Therein lies the problem. It isn’t about feathers in my cap. The fear of rut, habit or repetitive behaviour is rife. I am the mistress of job reinvention. Today Matthew I’m a writer and blogger. Tomorrow I’ll be off to London for a media event so will take on the role of luvvie.

While we’re at it think about actors. How do they manage? They may well just say, ‘I act’ but think of, Barbara Windsor, for example. Depending on your age she is either the booby blonde with the pinging bikini top in Carry on Camping or she is mother to the Mitchell brothers and lived in the Queen Vic on Albert Square.

Elizabeth Taylor. For all of her beauty and brilliance she is either coupled with horses or pyramids.

Type Daniel Radcliffe into Google and you are instantly informed of his role as Harry Potter. It’s not a role. He is him!

Names become typecast in different generations. We have old people names: Doris, Wilbur. We judge people on their name as if that is who they are, their identity. I’m not mentioning any because I know some have already jumped into your head.

Mandy is always a popular girl even though, ‘I’m Mandy fly me’ isn’t about a high-heeled red-lipped cabin crew hottie welcoming into you on board a 747.

This train of thought burst out when I was adding the finishing flourishes to my next book, Past Life Regression Made Easy. Last week I decided to make Past Life Tourism free as an app and on Smashwords.

Now, I love past life work and everything to do with it but felt a little sick at the thought that that is what I would be known as. I've written about this before but travel back in time with me 12 years or so to when I signed with the delicious literary agent, Serafina Clarke, who at the time represented Joanne Harris. Her of Chocolat fame. See, how easy it is to label.

My book then was about breast enhancement using hypnosis. Fortunately no-one wanted it. I feel relief to this day at that result. I would have forever been known as the Hypno-tit.

What to do? I think the answer is to propose another book to be popped in-between The Psychic Way and Past Life Regression Made Easy.

And, hope jolly hard my publisher understands my logic.


Alice Grist said...

Funny, horribly true. Keep it simple I say, but I've been called all sorts this weekend without them being anything I have ever advertised myself as. Most annoying is that several times people have said to me ... 'you should know you're the psychic, clairvoyant, medium.' None of which I have ever stated. Nor are any of them true. Now I'm just having a moan, sorry! Love, Alice (not of wonderland, nor is my name preempted by 'who the f@ck is' - but I am indeed Alice of The HIgh Heeled Book Variety.)

barb said...

Lol! moan away. The other one is when anything psychic is mentioned people say, 'Do you talk to dead people?'
Keen to know what you've been called.
love x