The Write Byington

The Write Byington
Photo by Etienne Girardet / Unsplash

I am the third child in a family of seven children. This is often my "interesting fact" that I say in class/group introductions at the beginning of a project. What I rarely mention after this fact is that my sisters and I (all five of us) have the same first and last initials - E.B. In fact, we all agree that if we ever decided to write a book about our experiences growing up in a large family, it would be published under E. Byington (even if my eldest sister changed her last name after marriage).

Because I share the same first initial and last name with four other women, I wanted to make sure that my domain name and persona name were creative enough to be recognized as me, while also getting in a witty homophone.

Thus, was born.

With this domain, readers know exactly whose site they are on and what I do professionally. I decided to host my website on GoDaddy because the mechanics for building a website are a little easier than why I've worked with previously on sites like WordPress. I've set up a home page, a contact page, an about page, a blog page, and a page for Frequently Asked Questions. Links to my LinkedIn and Facebook page can be found at the bottom of the home page.

I intend for this digital persona to be my face as a writer. In my publishing class this past summer, part of our final project was to discuss who our digital professional persona when we advertise ourselves as writers. I'm going to pull from that assignment a little bit and reiterate what I said then now: My goal for any professional persona that I put forward is to be like Dolly Parton.

The reason Dolly is so beloved is because she stays unproblematic.

Above all, Dolly Parton never wants to alienate her fans and does so through remaining apolitical. In the 70s, she spoke around answering a question about if her song "9 to 5" was a feminist declaration. In the 2020s, she was unable to accept the Presidential Medal of Freedom from the Trump administration, and she turned down the honor when it was offered by the Biden administration. When she learns that something under her brand could be seen as offensive to her fans, she simply changes the name and moves on.

She also keeps her private life very close to her chest. She has been married to her husband for almost fifty years, but he is rarely seen in photos with her. Barely any footage of her without her iconic wig and make-up can be found. If she had a mean or spiteful bone in her body, then nobody would ever know because she keeps it so close to herself. And I don't think she does, because her actions and songs speak volumes about who she is as a person.

Now compare Dolly's professional persona with that of someone like J.K. Rowling, writer of the Harry Potter books. Despite still remaining popular with fans, Rowling has alienated fans in the queer community because of her stances on biological sex, gender, and transgender individuals. Her statements caused backlash to surround the release of a game based on her wizarding world with many former fans calling for a boycott. Heck, Harry Potter was my entire identity during high school, and now I cringe a little bit when I meet a new person and they have a Harry Potter tattoo.

So, should your persona be 100% apolitical all the time?

Well, No.

I don't intend for my persona to be apolitical. I believe it is important for consumers of my content to be the right kind of people that I want to consume my content. Never in a million years would I want a Nazi to take something that I've created and use it to further their agenda. In the reading from Balzotti, two of the ethical groups of writing described are honesty and objectivity. You never want to misinform your readers, so as a professional persona I will make it a point to read thoroughly into a subject before voicing an opinion on it. Balzotti states that when it comes to technical writing, being ethical includes being objective. However, there are some topics you cannot be objective on. Racism, for example, is a topic you should never be objective on. As a gay woman, I am positively biased towards the community I am part of and my writing reflects as much. This is where honesty and objectivity can either clash or marinate together in a way that can be beneficial to your persona.

To wrap up, my professional persona and domain is going to represent me as a writer. I believe it is important to have interactions with readers and consumers of my content, but it is also important to keep private thoughts and opinions to myself. In some cases, my persona might be asked to make a statement or voice an opinion on a topic that is "touchy" or controversial, and depending on the topic is would be important to make and take a stance. While I don't want to alienate fans, one of the best ways you can make sure your content isn't being used for unintended purposes (like Nazi manifestos) is to be clear about what your beliefs are and who your content is intended for. Those who would use it to harm will weed themselves out.

In a shorter sentence: Be Like Dolly.

Erin Byington

Erin Byington

I am a graduate student at Middle Georgia State University. I am working on my Master's in Professional and Technical Writing.
Warner Robins, GA