Writing Personas and Outrageous Vanities

Every author, however modest, keeps a most outrageous vanity chained like a madman in the padded cell of his breast.

— Logan Pearsall Smith

Dear writer, imagine a world without written words. It’s just a thought exercise, but think about it. How would you possibly communicate your personality? Or worse, how would you communicate the personality you want others to attribute to you? Sure, we can talk to each other (old-fashioned though that is), but talking also supposes that someone else will listen in order for that communication to successfully take place. Listeners can also read other nuances and gestures to show them truths you don’t always know you’re throwing out at them. At least when we write we have a small window of opportunity to get across a point without being interrupted, or face-to-face interpreted or misinterpreted.
Have you considered your persona lately? Are you writing your blog with your honest self plastered up on the screen for all to see? Or are you deliberately massaging the way that others see you? Does it trouble you either way?

Perhaps none of us presents to the world, be it online or in that real world outside the door, in absolute honesty. That is, perhaps we’re conscious of only letting others see what we want them to see. Freudian ‘ego’ springs to mind: that mask we wear, that defence mechanism against the world. However, I’m also reminded of the concept of egolessness and of Buddhist views on this: that understanding egolessness is understanding that there is no ego in the first place.

Ego is a construct. Do we need it to write behind? In our fictions we develop characters, which may or may not have some autobiographical concern, and this construct is necessary in the creation of what I once heard termed as the ‘fictive dream’. Do we also need to create a fictive dream of our blog writing though? That is to say, in fiction we need to keep our readers immersed in the moment of the story, like in a dream; in blog writing, are we also seeking to immerse our readers in the story of us?

If the answer to this is ‘yes’, then why is it ‘yes’? Why do we feel a need to immerse a reader in the persona of us on the screen? If the answer is ‘no’, we don’t seek to immerse the reader, then does that mean we’re just running away, finding a place at the edge of the internet, in a dark corner somewhere, to hide? If we want to hide, why not just hide in private notebooks that never see the light of day?

Like it or not, our personas must leak out into the world: we have needs, whatever those needs may be, to communicate. Imagine if we had no written words: what might become of the outrageous vanity, chained like a madman, in the padded cell of each of our breasts?

Tell me something . . .

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