Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Be yourself or the other person…

One of life's mysteries is how a 2-pound box of chocolates can make a woman gain 5 lbs.

What am I rabbiting on about today?
It’s something I have spruiked on about before...
I was talking to a really talented writer this morning. She can kick my arse easily when it comes to writing. Her words and structure and thoughts are perfect. I can never be that good. I know my limits. Sure, I’ll test them every second hour but reality is a great leveller. I am like my blog when it comes to writing – all over the place and only my editor knows how unstructured and wild my submissions are. No wonder my editor lives on tequila and chocolate Freddo frogs when she edits my stuff…but, I digress....this is all about whether you throw caution to the wind as a writer and link your real and pen name together or be careful and save yourself's a hard question....

It’s no surprise that I write under two names – Janet Davies and Amarinda Jones – oh? You were surprised? Sometimes it surprises me. There are days I am answering to so many names – Janet, Amarinda, AJ, Lucy (from my best friend) and Nina- from someone else but that’s a long story - that I have no idea what the hell I am doing. So, what am I on about? After my incredibly wise editor (no, I’m not sucking up…much) suggested, many books ago, I try writing a ‘scorcher’ – much sex with romance in a book – I have never looked back. I would have been happy to write just purely under one name but again it was pointed out to me that the two genres I write under should be separate to avoid confusion with readers of either genre. Fair enough. But I made a conscious decision that I would link both names. Basically because anyone I knew and cared about would not be surprised with anything I did. ‘So you’re writing sex laced romance now?’ Yep ‘Skydiving dressed in a chicken suit next?’ Don’t be ridiculous. I can’t stand heights.

I know many people do not have the luxury of unshockable family and friends. I know the writer who I was speaking to this morning is concerned about perceptions. I know many people do not have others who believe in them totally and without reservation as to what they may do. Am I lucky? Yes, in some ways. But I would have linked the two names and the writing regardless because – as Popeye so wisely said – I am who I am. And yes, it does take an element of guts to put both styles of writing out there but once out there it really shocks few people. Mostly I get letters from readers saying that although my Janet Davies books don’t have as much sex as the Amarinda books, the writing is the same – exactly – I am who I am. That never changes.

As a reader, I accept that Jane Doe may write in two names – say Jane Doe and Jane Smith - and in two different styles. Do you? Would you be shocked if Pollyanna – yes, I am pinning this all on the Doe’s, the Smith’s and Pollyanna – suddenly wrote a scorching erotica book? Or would you think I want to read this because I liked her other books. Do you get disappointed if a writer shows another side to their personality? Can you accept that people – writers – have more than one dimension? I think most people can as no one is static. People change, they evolve and they have many hidden and fascinating ideas just waiting to break the surface.

I think it’s up to the individual writer to make up their own mind as to what they will be called on a book and whether they will link names together. Yes, it will most likely help sales with cross readership but how far do you dare to be or are you allowed to be yourself? It’s a conundrum isn’t?

So who are you today?
Who do you dare to be? How far do you push your luck?

Just a thought…as I was running late this morning and couldn't manage to de-crooked-ify (maybe I made this word up) my crooked lips with lipstick and I wondered why with all the miracle cosmetic products we have on the market, why isn’t there a lip template that you just stamp the perfect set of lips on your mouth? This would be very practical as it would save time, people would not need to spend money on botox and you could have lips for every mood – thick, thin, pouty. Yes, quite brilliant. Maybe call it 'lipsmacker' or something else. If you are reading this Ms Rimmel or Ms L'Oreal think about this as a product. It's no sillier than all the whiz bang products with things like Tibetan yak spit in them that is supposed to make you look younger. What products would make your life easier? I’ll add them to the list when L’Oreal emails me and asks for hints.

Sometimes I think I understand everything, and then I regain consciousness.
Go ahead: Live with abandon. Be outrageous at any age. What are you saving your best self for?


Katie Reus said...

If my favorite authors didn't have more than one dimension, I think I'd be sad ;)

I like reading across genres from the same author b/c the voice stays the same. At least that's been my experience.

Anika Hamilton said...

Today, I am me.

And although I might not have the total support of my family I think they will come around. And quite frankly if they don't I have to live my life for me as they should for themselves.

Cindy Spencer Pape said...

As I crossed series with my first erotica book, it was deemed prudent to leave the name the same. Therefore there is only one me. For the sake of the universe, this is probably a good thing.

Anny Cook said...

I also crossed series and therefore have one name. Personally, I am fine with two or three or four pen names for an author as long as they have a place where they list their works by name. Many of the current top authors have more than one name...Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb, Jayne Ann Krentz/Jayne Castle/Amanda Quick, Elizabeth Lowell/Ann Maxwell and likely a host of others. What I find frustrating is when an author writes under multiple names with no reference listed anywhere and you find out about other books purely by accident.

Regina Carlysle said...

I honestly didn't know what to do when I had to decide. Seemed so damn confusing to do two names. Did that mean two websites, two blogs, two sets of business cards? I wanted to pull my hair out.

In the end, I went with two names because my mom has a giant stick up her butt. God love her. The voice in both Rita Thedford titles and Regina Carlysle titles are exactly the SAME...just a different heat level.

Molly Daniels said...

Same with mine. My mom objects to the language; she'd really lecture me if she read what is going under the Kenzie name!

barbara huffert said...

How did I miss this?

I am always just plain old me. I have enough trouble with that. I don't have the energy to be someone else too. My latest stance...this is me, take it or leave it, their loss if they don't.