Tag Archives: anonymity

Bloggers: The Real and the Imagined

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As a nurse, especially when working as a psych nurse, we are taught to read body language, to pick up on subtle biological cues, note changed inflections and tones when listening to words spoken.  You get none of that online. Even when you are acute enough to read between the lines, it’s not the same thing.  You are working off of one sense, and your brain has to assimilate the information from there.  The other four senses are impaired.  We are all reading with impaired senses. There is no real emotion in it, only the sense of sight, you see the words, your mind has to create the rest and none of us think quite alike.  What you write is subject to interpretation by the reader. We are operating like the drunk driver.

When writing novels, we are always writing from our own perceptions, trying to convey a personality through words. Not our own personality, but the character’s personality.  Their mannerism, mood, actions, reactions, language, how they uniquely interact with the world around them. A world that we also created.

Many bloggers, especially anonymous bloggers who have created an online persona of sorts, do the same.  The ones who use a character image to write and respond to comments are really adept at projecting an image they wish you to see; like Mr. and Mrs. Bojangles (Not really characters that I know of, I am making them up for demonstration purposes). She signs her comments Mrs. B and he signs his comments Mr. B.  They take turns posting whatever they wish the world to know about the Bojangles and how the Bojangles receive the world around them.

They might really be Mr. and Mrs. Morgan down the street. He may kick his dog and she may beat her kids, you really don’t know them. Online, they are a sweet little old couple who offer advice to young people on starting a family. Then again, they may be ministers of their church and dutifully assist their parish in all manner of life’s challenges. Again, you don’t know.  You just know their online persona.

ozLike the Wizard of OZ, they are protected by a curtain of anonymity.

Do you ever wonder about the people you meet online? Surely you do.

Then, there are bloggers who write outright, open about themselves and their personal lives, their work, their talents, their writing process, their ambitions, the way they perceive the world around them, signing their writing by their real life name, posting it at the top of their blog as I do.  How well do you really know them? Being online, you don’t see their flaws of character, that they bite their nails, never comb their hair, cross their legs and & arms when seated, and smell like yesterday’s cheese. You also don’t see their strengths of character, the way they shake a hand, their smiles, their infectious laugh, the way they always hold the door for others.  You can only guess, by the words they write, what they must be like in “Real Life”.

Whether it is the “real you” or a persona that you have imaginatively created, I am truly amazed with you all, from the 25 year old unemployed Australian guy sitting in a coffee shop with the brilliant mind looking for his niche that ponders life and its meaning, to the passionate 20 year old writing majestic prose and poetry lamenting lost love, from the quirky 80 yo great-grandma who recalls history with a twist of lime, to the struggling 30-something writer who ambitiously defeats personal odds to develop an entire series of marketable books.  The guy next door, the lady with 9 kids, the satirical comedian, the girl coping with mental illness and drug addiction, you are all why I keep coming back. I love the diversity that is you, real or imagined.

The collective consciousness of the blogosphere is both mystifying and marvelous!

Are Pseudonyms Outdated?

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Photo: Reuters

The original purpose of pseudonyms was to allow women to write in a man’s world.  In the 1700 and 1800s men were of a mind that women could only produce emotional memoirs successfully and men wrote the serious literary work.  Like Charlotte Bronte writing as Currer Bell, a name that could have been male or female, but allowed her to publish more readily.

I don’t want this piece to come across as author bashing.   I am curious on what your thoughts about pseudonyms today are.  Do you think their use is outdated?  Are the purposes different?  Do they have to do more with confidentiality and protection?

I have a girlfriend who writes erotica under a pseudonym.  I don’t blame her.  People could easily stalk her in our high tech society.  Serial Killers could single her out. (Okay, maybe I watch too much Criminal Minds.)

I wrote Red Clay and Roses using only my initials and last name.  Originally I did that for anonymity.  It was my first work and I didn’t want to embarrass myself if it turned out that it was crap.  When others started reading it and telling me to publish it, I felt better about it, but still felt that going public like that would open a whole new world and I was not sure I, Susan Koone Nicholls, was ready for that and I wondered if my family was ready, being such a revealing factual based story.   I think they are okay with it now, but I have not yet submitted to my hometown paper.  That might change things.

I have a murder mystery in progress.  I am very seriously considering writing under a pseudonym because I believe that genre is better accepted as a male dominated genre.  Then I think about  Faye Kellerman, Sue Grafton, Karin Slaughter, and other female mystery, thriller, crime novelists who have become quite successful in their own right without any use of male pseudonyms, just good writing.  For marketing purposes it might be better to write under an already established platform as S. K. Nicholls.  After all, not all of us can be J.K. Rowling/Robert Galbraith and unmask when reviews are great but sales are soggy.  I think she did a great thing to write under a pseudonym anonymously in that she is already famous.  Do you think she would have unmasked had her work received the same reviews as “The Casual Vacancy”?