The Evolution of a Writer
“‘Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’
‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit.
‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’
‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’
‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.’” ― Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit
A few posts ago, I wrote an article about the importance of names and how they define a character, giving him an identity. Zealously, I harped on the value of a great name in fiction, yet in real life I’d been grappling with that same issue for my online persona. I’m pursuing a public career… what do I call myself?
You see, there was a time not too long ago, at least in my limited message board experience, that pseudonyms and anonymity were the norm in the chat rooms. No, I didn’t belong to some clandestine anarchist group, but simply a TV program fan board. I was expected to have a clever handle, and it should in no way give an indication of who I privately was. Of course, the internet was newer back then and felt more dangerous, at least to me. It still does.
Enter Facebook (this is the order of my evolution, anyway). My brother introduced me to that big cocktail party during a visit, but it took me a few months before I worked up the gumption to dive in.
Unlike any of the other boards I had dealt with, Facebook expected me to be who I was – my real self – because, after all, this was a forum specifically designed to connect with old friends and new. They had to be able to look you up, however, I didn’t want people whom I had known for like, a day (or one-night, ahem!) stalking me and wanting to be included in my day-to-day activities. I mean, there’s probably a good reason we haven’t been in touch for twenty years.
So, I put my dog’s picture up as my Facebook avatar, which alleviated my fears a smidgeon or two. As a matter of fact, my dog remains there…I think…I don’t know, a year has passed since I’ve checked in. Like I said, it’s a big cocktail party over at FB and there simply hasn’t been the time.
Enter this blog. Upon its creation, I still wasn’t comfortable putting my picture up, and since I was going to be revealing more personal issues and inner thoughts, I went with a pseudonym. Its initial purpose was to be a memoir – these years with my mother – and something that I could review later when I write a story about a woman with Alzheimer’s, perhaps her story. Even so, I was still petrified to bare any of my soul.
Then a writing buddy, Julie, turned me on to Writer Unboxed, and through them, I’ve learned about platforms, marketing, pseudonyms, avatar pictures, Facebook and Twitter accounts – all of the things necessary for a writer’s toolbox – and have found the general consensus on their site and most other respected blogs to be: Use your real name, real picture.
M.L. Swift is born…again.
What’s the next big step? I think Twitter…down the line. Luckily, the folks at WU have recently hired a Twitter and social media expert, Nina Badzin, who recently posted on that topic and will be posting similar articles once a month.