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Is that me, baby? Or just a brilliant disguise?

by on December 15, 2013

I know that the Boss isn’t seen as cool now, for reasons I can only guess at. Probably longevity in this quick, grab your moment and move on world where Andy Warhol’s famous ‘fifteen minutes of fame’ dictum is a reality. But like Springsteen’s lyrics and his rather bleak views on life. This particular song lyric has always grabbed my attention, though and it deserves a little more thought, not just as writers (as I suspect some 80% of those who read my ramblings are writers) but also just as people.

Who are we, inside? Is it anything like the image we like to project? And who, exactly are we fooling?

Now I know that a lot of writers like to project an image of who they really are through their books. Read Richard Bach, and an image of who he is inside is inescapable. Some autobiographies (and I’m not naming names for fear of being sued!) show hints – and often the hints reveal a very nasty side indeed – of the real person behind the image. Others (and I’m thinking reality show celebrities here) show that the lights are on, but there’s no one inside the shell. Many political memoirs show how self centered and absolutely convinced of their self worth the author was, demonstrating that politics was probably their natural niche.

As writers, we sometimes try to reflect lots of personalities, don’t we? Sometimes we are nasty, vicious and destructive, sometimes abused and fearful, sometimes overpoweringly good natured, and sometimes, well just normal: depends on what character we are creating at the time. I’ve wondered sometimes if the characters we create and write can bite back sometimes, and actually change us in turn. I know that, realistically, I can’t write anyone who is totally evil. I lack the empathy for that world view to make it real. Does that make me deficient as a writer? I don’t know, it just tints (rather than taints) how I write.

And yes, although I’m not going to tell you, I have a strong image of who I am inside, which is at varience to my carefully cultivated external image – perhaps. Or maybe it isn’t. But do you have an image of yourself inside? Maybe secretly you are a lumberjack, living hard in the deep forests; a monk happily sat on a mountain top; a noble savage wandering the warm, sun drenched beaches of the Caribbean; or an artist captivated by colour, light and shade?

And if this image is strong enough, have you any plans to adjust your life until it meets this image? And should any of us not be trying to do that, does that diminish us as human beings? Is our purpose to align our self image and our life? And what on earth has brought all this inane rubbish out on an otherwise normally insane blog? I heard on the radio the other day that The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is being remade, and it got me thinking. Sorry. But the next time you sit down at the computer, and start typing, pause and ask yourself: who do you think you are that day?


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  1. Rebecca Douglass permalink

    Hmm. Like you, I can’t seem to write anyone truly evil. I have trouble with who and what I am, too. It changers from day to day and with the hormonal fluxes :D. Best I can do is knowing what gives me joy. Maybe that’s enough.

  2. A very deep post from you today Will. I always hope that who I am inside is pretty obvious outside. Otherwise life is just too complicated. But it’s not. The more obvious I think it is, the less clear it seems to be. Strange.

    Have to say I love writing a baddie, although the one I’m doing right now I’d pure pantomime but that just makes us love to hate him…. I hope phnark.



  3. Yes, it’s more normal for me to write froth isn’t it MTM? I’m sort of more comfortable with that.

    But just occasionally it’s nice to show I have hidden depths, before I, well, hide them again.

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