A NICHE! A Niche! My *Queendom For a Niche!
Seeing the trees for the forest
*I mean King
Putting the finishing touches last month on the soft launch of FORD KNOWS, I came across an article about finding a niche for your author platform. They made an excellent point:
Standing out in a crowded field sometimes requires you to narrow rather than broaden your focus.
I decided to give Finding My Niche a whirl.
And I ain't even trying
I never had to sweat to get paid
'Cause if you got a gimmick
Gypsy girl, you've got it made…”
- “You Gotta Get a Gimmick” (Lyrics - Steven Sondheim, 1959)
One of the questions to arrive at your gimmick—excuse me, niche—asked what themes you tend to work in, what do you go back to over and over? What is your writing ABOUT?
My unadulterated answer:
Gay. Gay gay gay. So gay. Gay men, gay sex, gay love.
Also: Loneliness, alienation, oppression, hierarchy, patriarchy, sexism, capitalism, colonialism, opportunism, degradation, desperation, ego, escapism, dis/connection, privacy, secrecy, hedonism, revenge, sobriety, spirituality, creativity, writing, Bloomsbury, dogs, the Occult…
A potent recipe to headline my brand new Substack, to be sure, but perhaps an acquired taste? A little strident for polite company? Maybe let’s set all those heavy -isms aside for now and cast our gaze on more accessible topics.
So I do love a good romp through Bloomsbury, and it is a pretty mannerly subject, but I’d hardly say I’m a full-on Bloomsbury cleric just because I’ve made the pilgrimage to Monk’s House and Charleston; meanwhile, the field of “Blogberries” is already so well-stocked, I can’t imagine devoting myself to it.
And I can’t write just about dogs—I mean, I love dogs, but I’m only “in love” with my dog, Bubba, and who could blame me?
Neither am I a gay rights activist by any stretch—pretty sure the recent Anti-Homophobia rally in Sitges to address a New Year’s bashing may in fact be the first protest of any kind I’ve actually attended, and I went to Berkeley! I’m not apolitical, or even apathetic, but introverts are not known for our vociferous displays. Pardon me while I LIVE my protest: openly, Proudly, WITHERINGLY gay.
But spirituality, hmm… There, certainly, is a field so difficult to pin down, so rife with misunderstandings and misconceptions, any charlatan at all could put his stake in the ground and declare himself ascended—to put on robes and pass around a collection plate is the oldest trick in the book! Who’s going to prove you wrong, GOD?
In fact, I DO have a few things to say on that subject, but I could never make that whole deal my thang: I half-heartedly wrote out a couple thoughts at one point, and they just sort of hung there, like those half-painted wooden Christmas ornaments we started then abandoned, age six, and which our mother insisted on putting up year after year because they sure were cute, in a nuclear experiment sort of way, but hardly ready for the Barney’s Christmas Window.
Not to mention: I’ve never worn purple in my life.
The Occult? Not much I can say about that without breaking some vow or other.
Of course, there is the obvious choice: creativity, and writing, but you probably don’t need to see my overstuffed Bookmarks folder to know there is a gigantic amount of wonderful information out there, blogs, resources and groups far and wide, so much, so well-thought out and -meaning you would assuredly concur it’s hardly undiscovered country, and support my demurely declining that well-traveled road.
Dear god, I began to wonder: Am I NICHEless? UnNICHEable?
Of the short list of general themes I derived from my interrogation, only one seemed to contain the germ of a seed of a spark: Laughter makes life tolerable. Aha.
Now, I have a…distinctive laugh. “Infectious” people say when they mean to be kind, a cackle of hyenas when not (that really is the collective noun.) I love to laugh, I find humor in every sort of person, place and thing, and appropriate or inappropriate, I never suppress a good laugh because that is even more unhealthy than suppressing sneezes, which can kill you.*
*I do not know this as a fact, but I do believe it strenuously.
“Laughter is an instant vacation.” - Milton Berle
“A day without laughter is a day wasted.” - Charlie Chaplin
“When humor goes, there goes civilization.” - Erma Bombeck
“Trouble knocked at the door, but hearing laughter, hurried away.”
- Benjamin Franklin
Words to live by.
And so, for the occasion of the launch of FORD KNOWS and the foreseeable future, being neither an expert in anything nor a master even of the craft on which I’ve more or less set my devotion in perpetuity, I choose for my niche a merry mirth—to have fun with what humble wit I can muster. Sourpusses will be referred to Martin.
You are definitely Nicheable!
Enjoyed reading this.