A stop by Maud Newton's blog brought me to an essay on author personality by Stephen Elliott. We fascinated by what authors are like, so quick to categorize -- self-obsessed or self-effacing? -- yet does it really matter what an author is like? As long as the work speaks to us, the writing and the writer should be allowed to exist in completely different spheres.
On one hand, that makes total sense. While our work comes from the unique people we are, fiction is supposed to be, well, fiction. Made-up stuff. So could an egomaniac write a brilliant novel on the importance of community? Could a shy writer capture a rowdy, bawdy character to perfection? Can women write men, and men write women? Of course.
On the other hand, we wonder, how does that author capture those qualities, if he or she doesn't have them or experience them vicariously? How did she come up with perfect details? Maybe we are quick to slap labels on those in the public eye, and to dissect them, because we want to find something teachable. Perhaps, for some of us, we are curious because we hope or know that we, too, will someday be in our own little spotlight.
So, fun question for those pounding out word after word, day after day: who are you, or would you be when on tour? What will the interviewer write after meeting you, and will that personality be in sync with what you write or drastically different?
I've been interviewed as a corporate spokesperson, never as myself. How will the experience differ, if at all? I would hope, of course, to be engaging and thought-provoking, quick with a one-liner or two. Then again, after a cheap red-eye and a ride straight from the airport Hertz to a radio station or bookstore, what are my chances? Will I be too quiet or talk too much? Will I recognize the personality they claim I am as myself?
What are your hopes for that moment, or stories from the road? What is your real personality, and do you think in that moment, when everyone was looking, were you or will you be most yourself?
Wednesday, September 26, 2007