I had some short stories, poems and photographs to share ... and so here I am

Who Is That Masked Man?

Much has been flagged up on the blog radar in recent weeks about whether we should remain anonymous, provoking me to think more about my own situation here at Shameless Words. Do I rest under this dark and elegant cloak of secrecy, or should I break out and put a tag to this face? Why the cloak in the first place? Does it matter?

I have pondered this for weeks. I refer to it in my profile, almost apologising in a way to those who may wonder why there is no name. I haven't ruled it out, I said, for no other reason than this whole blog thing is new and I'm not sure how a life can be changed by a blog.

What does all this mean in reality? For me there are several points to consider:

1) I don't want trouble. This is mainly linked to my job. I am a journalist for a large news organisation. A literary blog shouldn't be a problem for my employers though, as long as I'm not talking about them, my colleagues, or damaging the reputation of the news organisation with my views - controversial views may only arise in book reviews, I think. I need to look into this some more. What are your thoughts?

2) I want some control over who gets to read my posts, and taking away my name makes this a non-issue. Do I really want people who know me to have easy access to my thoughts on this and that. Don't forget that while some people may know me, I wouldn't confide in them in real life, share my poems with them, show them my paintings. It's easy now to search for people on the net, see what kind of presence they have. Old adversaries (not that I think I have many) tracking me down, having a good laugh at my poems and my literary ambitions? Old lovers getting a look in? Crazy people latching on to me and then causing me bother in my real life?

3) If one day I ever get a book published it may be useful to already have a presence on a blog. I am already a writer with a following - who knows how many hits I will manage after a year of this - and this would be wonderful for marketing, for that crucial word of mouth stuff that debut novelists need. Also, could an agent or publisher stumble across the fact that I have a manuscript available by reading about it on my blog, by being impressed by the presence I have, the obvious commitment I have to the written word and the writing network that can be established. This is a biggie for me. Am I limiting things at the current time by remaining anonymous with this blog? Maybe an agent or publisher checks out the web when they receive a manuscript, to see what kind of presence that person has in the world?

4) There is something nice about the title Shameless Words, as opposed to my real name (the two are not that far apart, by the way). There is the element of mystery, surprise and fun. Would people find it disappointing to know my real identity, to see a photo of me that dashes the image they build up with Shameless Words?

5) When your real name is not used in this kind of thing, you don't tend to worry too much about the content. We let loose and write what we like, without fear of reprisal or ridicule. If there was a name attached, would we be more careful? Would we take less risks? Could the creative process be limited and stifled?

6) There is always the risk we will be busted. It is going to happen. Some of my workmates already log in and read my posts - I confided in some of them because I thought they might be interested in writing and books. My mum logs in and reads the blog and has so far managed to respect the anonymity factor. It's only a matter of time though that someone blows my cover by accident. An old friend in Paris sent me a mail to say he'd worked out that I was the author of the blog, by clues he read in some of my posts. Damn. It's going to happen though. Shameless Words will be shamelessly outed! Why wait for that moment. Why live a double life?

All of those points have played on my mind. It would be dishonest to say that I don't hope that this blog may be useful in defining myself as a writer in the future. Should I get my name out there in the early days though, rather than miss the boat and give up a chance to establish a link with readers and writers on a real, solid footing? I would welcome your thoughts on this. I know that if I were to be offered a book deal I would probably straight away put my name up on this blog, to help increase my profile. So, why wouldn't I do it now? Why don't I think the profile thing is important at this early stage? What are the rest of you anonymous writer-bloggers doing?

I am playing with the buttons on this black cloak, but the hook on which to place it eludes me - and so I keep it on!

7 comments:

Minx said...

There was a great discussion going on over at Skint Writer about this very topic.
I just feel that I can 'be' on my blog - no censor, no critic (apart from Mr Black-Blog-Hater). The one thing that I've noticed is that no matter what you choose to call yourself, after a while your personality shines through.
Still intrigued by your choice though - waiting for the shameless words, but if your mum reads you....

skint writer said...

I'm facing similar dilemmas to you, but in my case the uncloaking should be easier as I'm self-employed. and I don't really blog about anything too personal.

I don't think there is are easy answers to the questions you pose, this is not a cop out; I learned a lot on a similar discussion om my blog, but never resolved it.

At the end of the day . . . blah, blah . . . only you can make the decision.

For me, it's 'when in doubt - don't'

Minx said...

Well that's probably good cos the whole world would find out that you can't spel and do good englishe!!!!!

skint writer said...

witch out - the grammer polis are abowt

Minx said...

I sapose you thank that's fanny!

Shameless said...

Just as well you are all anonymous then! What creative souls.

Anonymous said...

Best regards from NY! »