The Ting Ting's That's Not My Name
As a matter of full disclosure, I have not and likely am not going to be checking out Google+ anytime soon. I am social media saturated and I tend to let others feel these new things out, before I invest too much time in these beta testing matters. If anyone has a compelling reason why I must hurry up and jump on the Google+ wagon, please do leave me a comment.
I absolutely love A V Flox's writing. She is a wonderfully insightful blogger on all sorts of topics. Put simply she could write about sock lint and I would eagerly read it many times over because she is a good writer. I also follow her on Twitter. This weekend she put a post up about Google+ suspending her account because it is not her real name. Shockingly she, like so many other writers, artists and performers uses a pseudonym. She is such a trend setter. Mark Twain was Samuel Clemons people. O'Henry was not his real name. Many of our favorite movie stars and television personalities are not using the name on their birth certificate. I don't use my real name on many of the things I have written and published elsewhere. Much of my very best work, is published under the name I picked for myself. I self published my poems under that name.
Here is the deal many writers and artists pick a name that reflects the person they feel they are when writing. They also do it to protect themselves, their families and that fragile creative kernel, from a variety of people. As A V Flox says, she started writing using another name to protect herself from her family's scorn. I renamed myself early in my writing career to keep things separate, to protect my kids, to separate out my writing into categories, which various people close to me might want to be reading. Not all of my writing is political, about my yarden or women in business topics. My poetry can get edgy. My writing can get dark or steamy or ranty. I am a multi-faceted diamond and my various personas separate the art, the creative work product accordingly.
I have written about this before but I think it bears repeating. Writing is incredibly intimate sometimes. Being an artist, a writer can be very tricky. I have had instances where "fans" or "followers" or "creepy stalker types" think they know the totality of me based solely on a piece of writing I have done or a small segment of my writing. They don't. You see what I am willing to share, in some respects it is highly, highly edited. BY ME. I decide what I am willing to share.
For me writing is mental exhibitionism. I actually do enjoy sharing with my readers what I am thinking and sometimes what I am feeling. I enjoy pushing certain buttons in my readers. I enjoy the feedback, I like that I can make you think, squirm, make you smile. Make no mistake, a good writer, someone devoted to their craft wants to form a relationship with their readers, but in the narrowly defined space of the written word. At the end of the day, however, I control what part or parts of me you get to see. Just because I am willing to write a post about same sex marriage or my yarden for that matter, does not mean you, my reader have the right to trample my privacy. My writing something you enjoy is simply that, an exchange, I enjoy sharing, you enjoy receiving and we go on about our day. Just because I write a poem, which is about romantic love, sex or something very titillating and moving, does not mean I am inviting you over. Even if you are an intimate or close friend, that poem may or may no be about you. It is a work of fiction, it is a creation, it is something I have done, either for the sheer desire to create, in reaction to some stimulus. It might well be a combination of many, many things, some past and some present.
For me, picking a pen name, was my way of controlling the levels of personal intimacy. This is very important to me. I have been, in my online creative world, more than once a bit scared and totally relieved that the creepy admirer knew only my writing persona.
So while on one hand I can see why Google+ would want people to use their "real names." The problem is 15 plus years into the Internet age, is my writing persona any different than the "real me" many of you know? Is Fern Micheal's any less a real writer, a real person, because the name on her birth certificate is different than one who has sold hundreds of thousands if not millions of beach reading paper backs.
At a certain point the writing persona, the artist persona, it is as much a "brand" as it is a name. Seeing something written or produced or designed or whatever the creative output is, there is a "branding" effect. When I think of Picasso I think of cubist reality and when I think of Monet, I think of soft colors and pretty flowers.
So to answer a tweet I saw last night, "What's the big deal about Google+ insisting on real names."
Well for some of us, in certain areas of our lives - That's not my name...