Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Who am I?

Do I have a public persona?

It seems weird to contemplate this about myself. What if I think its X and everyone else see its clearly Y? Perhaps someone should write this post for me, describing my public persona. If I have one. It would be interesting to see how we would be described by the readers who have met any of us, or even if they just know us by our posts here at the bordello.

On the subject of a pre-decided public guise I completely understand why some folks--writers, actors, musicians, what have you--put on that mask (like Batman's cowl or Clark Kent's spectacles) to protect their sacred self by concealing their true nature. For some, maybe the stage name/pen name is more than a privacy issue, perhaps it is instead a coping mechanism that helps a shy person be the bold entertainer the crowd is hoping to see.

In a wide ocean of authors, how does one differentiate and gain attention?

That's the real question, isn't it? Answer: Write a kick ass amaza-freaking book.

But if you're not writing something that is going to make national top ten lists opening week, I suppose that developing a persona to put "on" when you go to conventions could help you be more memorable. I see how that could work. But for me--and I don't mean this as a judgment of others--it would feel fake and that would undermine me in a horribly self-conscious way.

I know this to be true because at a convention early in my writing career, I volunteered to moderate a panel and selected my outfit (read as: spent too much time worrying about what clothes to wear and trying on a myriad of different combinations of things) to suit the perceived uniform of the con. I settled on a dressy top, longish skirt and heeled sandals. Not a bad combo, actually.

If I was going out for a fancy evening with my fella.

I wasn't overdressed or underdressed, but I also wasn't there to be the focal spotlight of my love. I wasn't seeking to be the spotlight of the panel, either. I was working and trying to wear the attire I thought others expected me to wear so they would take me seriously. Yes, I fell victim to that sick notion that the visible outside was what mattered most. It felt all wrong. Dressy Author is definitely NOT my public or private persona. My agent was in that audience. First thing out of my mouth afterward when we talked was something along the lines of, "Oh my god I feel so weird in this." My agent replied something to the effect of,  "Screw them, wear what you want."
I needed to hear that and be given permission from an industry pro. I don't really know why. But now I do just that. If I feel rock-n-roll I dress rock-n-roll. If I feel like a Trek shirt and camo pants, I wear it. If I want to squeeze into my bustier and pirate skirt, I do. I just kind of do what I want and what feels right. And "right" leaves me so much more mental real estate with which to actually put words on the page, yanno?

The "me" I let strangers see isn't the many-faceted me, but it is real. Anything else would be the wrong choice for me.


  1. I love your agent's advice. Don't try to be what you think others want or change to what you think they want you to be. You rock just being you. :)

    1. Thank you Carma! (: You rock as well!
      The writing industry is so competitive and intimidating that as a new writer I didn't want to risk losing that small but hard-won foothold I had. Acceptance seemed important, but I can't say my attempts to 'fit the mold' made any positive difference for me. I'm sure there are some who could tell a different story. Something I learned is that self-acceptance is enough, and progress toward the goal feels so much better than worrying.

  2. Ditto to loving what your agent told you. You rock as is. Personally, I've always liked to think of myself as WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) or something along the lines of Popeye - I am what I am. Now that I'm published, though, I keep finding myself thinking that I have to consider how people out there might judge me for the persona they perceive online. But ya know what? Screw that. I'm still what I am. My latest author pic is me at the local boat launch on a day when we just picked up and went - no makeup, hair askew, comfy clothes. I'm a writer, not a fashionista.

    1. "I'm a writer, not a fashionista." Exactly! I see your comments often around the bordello, always thoughtful dialogue. (: Hope to meet you in person someday--we can be rather fashionless but comfy while we talk shop.