Due to some recent blogs, articles, etc. I’ve read, I’ve been pondering personality and how much of the real “you” is wise to put out into the world. Are some personalities PR nightmares? Why? What makes a PR dream? Is it possible to hold any of yourself back? What about a public persona versus the real you? Should you pretend to be something you aren’t in order to sell more books? Should I? Will publishers turn down a damn fine writer simply because she’s a bit too opinionated?
I know I have a strong personality. My mother says that people either love me or hate me because I give them no other choice. She knows what I write, the types of characters I create, the worlds in which they move around in, and most of it horrifies her. But she’s not surprised. After all, she knows me better than anyone else.
Kurt wonders how I manage to keep friends. He’s witnessed me actually asking people to leave my house because I’m busy or not feeling very social. Mr. Avoid-Confrontation-at-all-Costs is horrified by such behavior. Why have them here when I don’t want them? Why pretend that I’m enjoying the company when I’m not? Makes no sense to me. Be honest, and tell someone you’re too busy and they’ll understand. I don’t go showing up at their work in the middle of the day looking for coffee, do I? My home is my workplace, so I’ve trained my friends to treat it as such. Honestly, the friends that really get me, they don’t care. They call before they come and if I say I’m busy, they’re okay with that. Why? Because they’re my friends. What’s up with this visiting nonsense anyway? Who visits? Why? Stop it.
According to some ‘professionals’ we should mask these ‘difficult’ parts of ourselves if we want to have a career in the public eye, such as writing. We should do whatever we have to in order to avoid alienating potential fans. I’ve tried to be this agreeable, wouldn’t-say-shit-if-my-mouth-was-full-of-it, gracious, non-confrontational, likeable person that people think an author should be and I have failed miserably. Why? I cannot act. Not a bit.
I don’t pretend to be anything I’m not when I’m in the big bad world of blogs, writing groups, or social networking. To me it’s equal to lying and I loathe liars. (Loathe is my favorite word this week.) I am what I am. I say stupid things, but sometimes I come up with very wise things. They’re just never noticed as much as the stupid. I speak up when I feel I need to and I don’t care who you are, if you don’t like what I say, plug your ears/close your eyes, or tell me I’m an idiot and move along. But don’t tell me I should be anyone else. I’ve worked too hard learning how to be this person. Besides, with the characters floating around my head, I can’t handle taking on another personality.
Is this a good thing? In terms of book sales, publishing, etc. I don’t know. I’m not there yet. But I can look in the mirror and smile at what I see. I like that feeling. I’m proud of that person for hanging onto herself in a world that makes it very tempting to pretend to be someone else.
We hear lots about how authors have to be wary of their words, actions and how much they reveal about their personal opinions. Why? Because we write we should be different than everyone else? Because if we’re lucky a few hundred people might hang on our every word and if we offend them we might lose there undivided attention? We should advocate not being who you are? I hardly think so. If being who you are is not hurting, belittling, or pushing anyone else around, then who cares if you’re annoying, bitchy or boring.
Here’s the bottom line: Anyone who doesn’t like me or what I say, do, think, believe, hate, love, etc. is NOT going to like my books either. They aren’t going to like my writing, my characters, or the stories I have to tell. I write what feels right and often, it’s in your face and yes, there’s profanity and some offensive content. If it deepens the story and the characterization, I don’t shy away from including it because someone might be upset by it. I don’t have time to worry about offending people who are too narrowminded to appreciate our differences.
There are authors who I think are loud, annoying, arrogant and rude. They make no excuses for this, they just are and that’s it. And I love their books, even if I want to hurl something every time they speak. I admire that they worry about the writing first, not what others think about their social skills.
What are your thoughts? Do you alter your ‘public’ personality in order to be more likeable?