Thursday, February 14, 2008

One (more) problem writing

I have no desire to be in a book that I've written. I don't want a literary analyst to read something I have written and then draw conclusions about my views on gender, race, power, class, etc. I don't want someone to write a column about the parallels in my love life and the romance in the book or the effect of own marital dynamics upon the relationship of Prince Bortle and Princess Burguli in my 3rd novel . I don't even like revealing my fantasies to others, be they romantic, adventure, etc. It's my life and my fantasies. You've got your own; leave mine alone. (That last sentence makes a nice chant for a protest march though.)

This may sound very strange since I maintain this blog where I talk about my life, my politics, my vacations, and even the food I eat. But none of that is particularly personal -- in some way I don't quite understand. I do know that I write things as pacatrue that I wouldn't write under my own name, even though most of you can look my real name up quite easily if you don't already know it. Being "pacatrue" establishes an identity as a blogger.

I was thinking about this again because of a post on EE about pennames. The ideal pen name for me would be something like... saki. (H.R. Munro, the short story writer). Is saki Finnish, Iranian, Japanese, something else? Male, female? The name doesn't tell you. You just have to read the story and decide if you like it or not on its own merits. No debates about whether a man can write from a woman's POV, whether a person of one ethnicity can write about a character of another ethnicity, etc.

Just leave me alone and read the book if you want to.

But this desire for privacy limits me, I know. One's life and dreams are the greatest inspiration a writer has, so to choose to bottle it up because they're mine, mine, mine surely prevents me from writing some things that might be of interest. And while I long for privacy, I am well aware that every character I've ever written is some version of the ideas and beliefs in my head.

It's all a big mess and I can't untangle it. In general, I like anonymity; just send the check in my name please.


writtenwyrdd said...

I agree, just send the check and leave me out of it. We must be in the weird minority about the fame and attention thing, paca, but I would much rather not be noticed, just paid.

bunnygirl said...

I'm the same way, although I've found that at least for now, using my real name in zine publications is less of a hassle than using a pen name would be, and once you've started down the road of using a particular name, it's not easy to break with that unless you break genre as well.

Having people read my work and psychoanalyze me with it is my biggest fear. I posted about this just recently:

Robin S. said...

I figure you already know (because you've said it) that everyone inserts themsleves somehow in their art - whether it's written, photographed, filmed. Whatever.

But you don't have to share the backstory. You can just keep it to yourself.

And, you can relax a helluva lot until you've been published. So I'm still quite relaxed, which is a drag.

moonrat said...

i am told that some famous writer (which one was it now?!) said it's ok to make assumptions about what characters must be feeling or thinking, so you don't always have to resort to your own experience.


i am working on a story with three main characters, and all three of them are me in every possible way.


that's why YOU guys do the writing.

Sammy Jankis said...

As a student, I struggled mightily with this issue in high school and even into college. Coming from a small town in Louisiana we weren't expected to do much more in writing a paper than to illustrate that we actually read the book via a summarization of plot. When I left said small town to go to the same high school lama went to, we were expected to analyze the meaning of the work, the intentions of the author and the symbolism expressed. It took me years to wrap my mind around this concept. What do you mean? How am I supposed to know what this poet was thinking? And how do you know that the green knight was symbolic of anything from nature, to fertility, to witchcraft, to youth? How do you know that the five points of the pentagram represent the five dilemmas presented to Sir Gawain? Is it not possible that it was simply a plot device? Why do we ascribe intent to writers who lived over seven hundred years ago? How can we? I dealt with this issue over and over again, The Scarlet Letter, Invisible Man, and on and on. When I write fiction and poetry, I do not sit and go through self-analysis. I do not sit and plan out a specific truer purpose and endeavor to incorporate that purpose through various and assundry symbolic plot devices. Maybe that's why I could never be an author? I eventually learned that the way to get through those courses was to just pick some random plot device and make up some BS reasoning for it and assign it some symbolic virtue. It is amazing how much your grades improve when you do that.

Precie said...'re in linguistics! Have you read Derrida? Barthes? No matter what you write, meanings will be attached that you never intended. As much as I'd love to believe in liguistic purity...(that the word "fuck" for instance has no more or less power/significance than a word like "tree")...words inevitably carry valences.

Whoa. This probably sounds harsher than I intend. I'm really just continuing to think out loud about stuff I've been contemplating on and off for years.

As for the pseudonym thing, I will absolutely use a much for branding/marketing as for masking my identity. I want it to be easy to remember and difficult to make assumptions about.

I think you should go with Saki! :)