Wanna Be Relevant? Be Yourself

Basically, the moral of this story is in the title of the post. But allow me to elaborate if you have a little more time.

Yesterday, my younger brother asked me, “What are you doing to make yourself relevant?” (This is the same brother who convinced me to start a blog.) He didn’t elaborate on what he meant, however, so I didn’t answer. But I thought about his question today as the spring snow flurries gently wafted to the ground. (Yes. Snow flurries.) I knew he meant relevant to my audience, which covers kids elementary age through high school.

My thoughts on the subject ran thusly: If I really wanted to be relevant I would have a YouTube Channel like John and Hank Green. Yeah, I wish. (If you’re not sure who the Greens are, click here for one of their channels or here for a bio.)

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Hank and John Green

Or, I thought, I’d have one like the crew at How It Should Have Ended (HISHE) have. At this channel, they produce videos of alternate ways popular movies, movie trailers, and videogames could have ended.

hishe

I LOOOOOOVE this channel. Of the videos they produce, this is one of my favorites:

To show the relevance of this channel to the audience, another YouTube channel, this one by the Fine Bros, catalogued the reactions of teens to HISHE. That’s here if you want to see that video. They have other videos that show kids reacting to other aspects of pop culture.

The_Fine_Brothers_at_the_2010_Streamy_Awards

The Fine Brothers

Or, I considered, instead of a YouTube channel, perhaps I could do like my good friend Lyn Miller-Lachmann does and collaborate on Instagram with other storytellers. Lyn set up a Lego village in her home called Little Brick Township and has come up with stories based on it. Check out this post or this one at her blog. (Or better still, check out one of her young adult books, like Rogue.)

 16101109 Lyn_photo

I took a quick inventory of my assets.

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(First photo) A Dancing Oh from a McDonald’s Happy Meal (based on a character from the DreamWorks movie Home), Kitty, and Gandalf. (Second photo) Jordie, Frodo, and assorted sheep who strayed from the bookcase herd.

Okay, so Instagram storytelling was probably not the way to go with this motley crew. I needed another angle. . . .

Once I drank a few cups of coffee, I realized the answer to the question was staring me in the face all along. A comment Tina Alexander made in an interview at About Entertainment (an article written by Nancy Basile) helped. When asked, “How did HISHE come about?” Alexander replied, “Truly just from a love of movies and discussing them.” So, Lyn, the Fine Brothers, the Greens, and the folks at HISHE (Daniel Baxter, Tina Alexander, Tommy Watson, Otis Frampton, and many others) were all doing what they love to do. That’s how they keep relevant.

That’s when I realized: I’m already doing what I love to do: talking to kids and teens about the books, movies, YouTube channels, and videogames they love and I love. Best of all, I’m writing stories I love in order to share those stories with them.

So, the best thing I can do to be relevant is to be myself. It really is true: everything I needed to know I learned in kindergarten.

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How would you answer my brother’s question for yourself?

The Fine Brothers from Wikipedia. The Greens from pinterest.com. How It Should Have Ended logo from tardesocio.blogspot.com.

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39 thoughts on “Wanna Be Relevant? Be Yourself

  1. I don’t know. When you talk about relevance, I realise I have always had a foot in the past-the movies I watch, the music I listen to, even the books that I read. As for writing, for me it is early days yet.

  2. My answer: Here’s my blog and Amazon Author page. 😀 Maybe I take my own character’s desire to be remembered and leave a legacy personally, but I really do push for my books to make me relevant. It’s something that will last longer than me and make people smile. When all is said and done, that’s probably my biggest goal: to entertain and help people escape reality for a few hours.

    I’m guessing you’ve watched Honest Trailers too. Hilarious.

    • Yes, I’ve watched just about all of those, except for the ones that give spoilers for movies I want to see. That’s another favorite channel. I also like Smosh Games’s Honest Trailers.

      I’ve always liked the fact that you keep rolling along with your series and the new series you’re unfolding. I think that’s awesome. (Though it looks like the cover I voted for might not be chosen.)

      • Thanks. I get so far behind in movies that I take the spoilers on the chin with some of them. 🙂 Unfortunately, the ones I want to avoid seem to be everywhere.

        I have to make the final cover decision within 14 days. Which one did you want to win?

  3. I think I try to show that things are relevant if they make you understand our times more clearly. Sure, we are often rooted in our own pasts, but its the knowledge we take from our pasts that helps us understand and interpret the present. Then we turn that knowledge into stories. To me a good story is timeless at least in meaning. It can take place in the past, present or future–in a real or imagined world–but the messages are relevant to our times if the storyteller has the magic. I strive to become that kind of storyteller.

    Thanks for this post. I needed it today.

    • I agree with you, Lisa. A good story is timeless. Though technology might become dated, the message at the heart of a story is always relevant. I’d love to be that kind of storyteller, too.

  4. Being relevant to one’s audience is important, but not to the extent of taking away from creating one’s (he)art. Yes, stay current, but not to the exclusion of doing your craft.

    This comes up regularly in ‘programming’ performances/gig set lists/etc. What works for one audience or performer/artist doesn’t always translate into what will work in another context.

    I firmly believe if one is creating, evolving, producing, sharing, engaged with life – the ‘audience’ is naturally attracted to the resultant body of work (art, music, literature, research, etc). Stagnation in life results in death to ‘relevance.’

    But as they say, there’s nothing new under the sun…my mom was always encouraging me to just “BE YOURSELF.”
    😉

    • I agree that we need to keep evolving. Stagnation is horrible. What I find difficult sometimes, though, is the constantly evolving technology. There are so many social media outlets to learn, along with software. Do you find that to be the case as a musician?

      • AIEEEE!!!! Yes! (picture wild woman pulling hair out while ranting on stage, grabbing an imaginary guitar and smashing it in the manner of Pete Townsend…)

        I used to resent ‘having’ to learn so much techie stuff in order to keep up and then as I got older and wiser, I realized I could sit back and wait a bit…pick and choose which techie thing was the REAL next best thing ( for my purposes) and THEN focus on that.

        But bottom line for me is truly balance. I mean, I’ve been known to go without sleep and food (…but not coffee 😉 ) while in the midst of creating and/or prepping for an upcoming gig. Why can’t the same be done with all the social media chatter/distraction? We need sleep and food, but in balance…we need to use certain tech tools and social media outlets, but in balance…

      • I look at all the equipment the band at church has and promptly get a headache. I’m glad they know what they’re doing!

        I agree that a balance is necessary. I remember the days before Facebook and many of the other social media sites and before smartphones. They eat up a lot o time!

  5. “I took a quick inventory of my assets” Oh my gosh, I laughed out loud when I saw the photos. You’re so funny! I wouldn’t want you any other way than as yourself. I think that’s the best answer for most of us. 🙂

    • Thanks, Jill. This is how silly I am–it never occurred to me that my “assets” would get a laugh. So that makes me smile. Sad to say, that’s about all I have, with the exception of a wooden robot, a stuffed lion, a dolphin, and a Scaredy Squirrel hand puppet. This is why I don’t have a YouTube account.

      Yes, “be yourself” is always the moral.

    • You already have it, Andra. No worries there!
      I’m usually wondering what’s going on. There seem to be new social media sites springing up every five minutes!

  6. Thank you for the shout-out! I think building community, as you do with your blog, is a way of staying relevant. Your blog has been a huge inspiration to me as I’ve developed my blog, and I sent one of the Lego photographers to read you blog when she was starting hers. Her goal was to use her blog to build community among toy photographers, and you’ve served as a model for that among writers.

    • Thank you, Lyn! I admire the way you build community through your blog and through what you do on Instagram. I totally admire anyone who is creative with Lego bricks. 🙂
      Your book will be coming out soon!

  7. Great question! One of the things that comes naturally to me is that relating to kids. Give me a kid–I’ll connect. Why? Because I remember each age and what’s important at the point in his/her life. The challenge is translating that one-on-one connection from the spoken word to the written word.

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