There are things authors do not show you. Things that you’d never know by reading our posts or attending a reading, or skyping with us (I do Skype with bookclubs and love it, y’all!), things that you’d only know if you sat beside us and asked how we really felt (and we would be honest), or see our face pinched with doubt/anxiety/fear–and yes, also unbridled joy/excitement/hope.
My Baton Rouge friends and I one day talked a lot about personas—poet’s persona, artist’s persona, editor’s persona, actors/writers/singer’s persona and how it affects/effects our work/lives. You don’t have to be in the arts to have a persona. Get up, have coffee, dress, go to work—there is your Office Persona, or Stylist Persona, Cop Persona, Waiter Persona, Dog Groomer Persona—there are parts of yourself you must keep hidden while at your job. If my job is to greet people at the door with a smile, it doesn’t matter if I feel horrid or sad or mad: my job is to greet with a smile and that’s what I’ll do, but when I go home, I can let the smile slip if I so chose . . . or maybe smiling “in a fake way” created a Real Smile—lovely!
So do I have a Writer’s Persona? Well yes and no. What you read/see here is truly who I am, for I don’t want to come across as anything other than who I am. I am not some “author who sits up on a high pedestal” or whatever, and most authors I know or am in contact with do not either. I believe for the most part those days are gone for most all of us authors. We must learn to pull ourselves out of our comfynessessess and that’s that and that’s that! The good news, at least for ye olde me, is I can do this and still remain fairly reclusive in my mountain cove—haw! Yeah! Whoop whoop!
What we authors don’t often show are the doubts and the every day pressures and strains that those who haven’t yet published may not be aware of–I know how naive I was (granted, I do not complain about being published, lawd no!, for I’m filled with gratitude!). We do not like showing weaknesses when we may be feeling tired and in pain or envy or bunkity-dunk-funk-grunk and then five minutes later we’re all “Life is beautiful! Life is grand! I am the luckiest author alive!” Yeah. Welcome to the world of chaos! Hot damn! I know I want be a Light, not a negative. I want to inspire. To make people smile or feel happy or even to think, “She did it, so I can to!” I think most authors want to project that image and reality. Or image to reality if need be.
When I first moved to this cove, it both amused and delighted me (I admit it) that people would talk about “that writer up there in the cove on the mountain” – I felt a mystery, an enigma (maybe I still am – oh! I hope so, teeheehee). But, I never tried to hide who I was; it is only that my reclusive side, my private side, is much stronger than my social side—and guess what? That simply won’t do once you publish a book, for you must Get Out There, and you must Talk About Your Book, and Yourself. You must . . . *gasp* sometimes BRAG —and that my beautiful friends is difficult for many of us, especially women who are raised not to be competitive and show-offy. Huhn.
Posts where we authors Globiferate: “Oh! I feel so popular!” “Oh, go here and see my interview/review/guest blog/etc.” “Oh look what so and so said about my book, and about me!” “Me me me me me Pay Attention to ME! PLEASE LOVE ME” . . . well, mixed up in that is the hope that we won’t disappoint the people who buy our books, or host us on their blogs, or have us at their book club/event, or or or or a thousand times OR! “What if no one attends?” “What if no one makes a comment?” “What if everyone ignores my books/me?” Oh Dear.
And y’allses, mixed up even further in that gumbo/soup/quagmire of hell is, “I bet people are so danged sick of authors talking about their shit.” Ungh. We’re sorry—we truly are! But we’re told to; we have to; we must; it’s part of the job; if we don’t, then no one will read us/publish us/want us, and we must be loved loved and read read read! Dangity! *Oh Heavy Woeful Sighing Sobbing sobs!*
It’s against many of our Personalities to toot our horn; however, it is a requirement of our Persona that we do this.
Persona never shows weakness—ever. Persona must always be ON, must be damned near perfect. Right? Riiiiigggghhht.
Welp, guess I am a fallible human being who is surprised at how much she wants your approval, how much she wants you to like her, how much she wants you to follow along with her on her journey—oh yes, she does. My Persona sometimes gets on my nerves, but really, so does my Personality. This morning they are both at war for my attention, for your attention.
And now, you have seen under my skin, just a little bit, as I sit here this morning, drinking my coffee, ignoring the discomfort, pulling out my Persona while my Personality deals with the yuck stuff.
Do you have a Persona that sometimes defies your Personality?
(This post was taken/re-written from a blog post I wrote a couple years ago on my blogspot blog. Sorry to repeat, but I am in the midst of Galley Proofs of FAMILY GRACES, and hope to finish that before the Fairhope Conference!)