Everyone has different faces. Sides of themselves they choose (or don’t) to present to the world at any given time or under certain circumstances. Some of those different sides may even have names and backgrounds of their own, for whatever reason.
But for creative types, or “professionals” who have to maintain certain appearances, it can get very tricksy, precious. Juggling who can say what to whom and where bogs you down in a spiderweb that would make Shelob proud. And the urge to say “hell with it!” and just spew all of it out in one place, as one face, is sometimes overwhelming. But you know you can’t.
I’ve seen a lot of advice on the internet that basically says maintaining multiple sites and personae is bad business, and a waste of effort. What none of those sites mention is that – and this applies specifically to creatives or those hoping to make a living off their creative talents – is that if your particular brand of “talent” extends in different areas, that cater to different audiences, and some of those things might potentially offend or drive off some members of your theoretical fanbase, you’re kind of caught.
I’ve mentioned before that I have a female persona, often used in romance groups. That came about due to some amusing circumstances. I had joined a romance writers/readers/critics group, and attempted to submit a story. Everything was going swimmingly, as i gleefully posted about other’s work and tried to get involved in the community. Then they discovered my gender. A lot of flaming ensued, that basically amounted to “You have a penis, so can’t possibly know anything about this.” My manuscript, so far as I know, was flambe’d without being read.
“So,” says I, “let’s see what happens when I do… this!” With the assistance of a friend who provided a profile pic, some time spent pecking away to invent a history and reason for writing – most of which is so batshit insane that it makes the accusations in Michelle Remembers look totally plausible – and the creation of a new e-mail address and website for said persona, I rejoined the group and resubmitted the manuscript, changing nothing except the author’s name on the header. Suddenly, they loved me. I was the belle of the ball, writing “gripping, powerful” prose that “really deals with the struggles we women face.”
I still haven’t told most of them I’m a man. I want to. Just to watch their heads explode.
Of course, now I was having to manage this person’s internet presence, as well. More work. But “she” gets to say and do things that Kaine wouldn’t. Perhaps it’ll bear fruit one day… or perhaps I’ll end up like Thad Beaumont in The Dark Half, despising and resenting this other facet of myself who somehow becomes more interesting, valued and worthwhile than my actual self. Despite that my “actual” self is also technically a created person as well.
Then there’s another person who in most ways is similar to the “real” me and the version of that me you see on this site, but due to the seedy internet back alleys he hangs out in – and the fandom associated with it – has to maintain a degree of separateness. Kaine Andrews being caught on sites where Wincest fanfiction seems to be the order of the day – regardless of wether or not that’s what he is attempting to produce – just would be unseemly.
And then my personal favorite, there’s the persona who gets to say all the shit that I can’t, for fear of being branded misanthropic, misogynistic, sexist, racist, ageist, anti-child, a gun nut, a conspiracy theorist, a socialist, a communist, a hippie, a psychotic religious right supporter or whatever other label people want to slap people with any time their feelers get hurt. It’s a sad day when you can’t ask questions or point out logical fallacies in an argument without instantly being branded as against “the cause,” whatever that cause may be, when in fact you could really care less (or are even for it, in some instances), and all because you dared to question the party line or because you have issues with one particular individual in said party. But that’s how things are, anymore.
I have two more “major” personalities beyond those, and then of course there’s the me on this site and the “real” me who has to juggle all of them and keep them from throwing mashed potatoes at each other during family dinners. And it’s exhausting. But it must be done. For science! Or something.
I wonder if anyone else steps into these kinds of situations, thinking that writing under a pseudonym, for whatever reason, is as easy as slapping a moniker of your own devising on something you created and calling it good. Maybe it is, for some folks. But for me, I have to invent histories, create internet presences, make flow charts of their interrelationships with each other and the world at large, and try to remember 8 different Facebook/Twitter/YouTube/WordPress passwords (and let us not forget, always checking when sending e-mails that you’re sending it from the right box. It’d be terribly embarrassing if someone were to e-mail Malcolm about something and get a response from Kaine Andrews. Well, not really. There’s worse possibilities. Mixing Romance Girl and Angry Rager, for example.
I think I had a point when I started typing. I might have forgotten it. Oh, right. “Multiple sites are silly!” says the internet. “Ditch your pseudonyms,” proclaim the message boards.
“Uhhhh. No,” I say back. Because if this page was to suddenly have all the things from the other places I’ve been, I suspect it would get even messier… and I’d get a lot more hate mail. Oh well. Of course, I could just Nora Roberts this… I saw a book at work the other day that was written by Nora Roberts and J.D. Robb. Which is hilarious. Made even more so by the author pic on the back:
Hmm. Maybe Kaine could interview one of his other personalities. Or, what might be even more amusing, one of them could interview him. And then we can pose for pics together. That might be difficult for at least one – I look awful in drag, as a bet with an ex-girlfriend proved – but could still be amusing.
Anybody else out there juggling multiple personalities? Have any advice, insight or amusing anecdotes on the subject? Let us know in the box below!