by Kristina Wright
I've never been good at being someone else. I'm a competent liar and capable of deception (fiction writers are, after all, the best liars), but to slip on the mask of a different personality entirely? I have never been able to do it competently. I couldn't even use a pseudonym for more than two erotica stories before I resorted to my real name for sanity's sake. Honestly, in most all situations, what you see is what you get with me. Is that good or bad?
There have been occasions where I wonder if it's good to be so... ME... all the time. Times when I wish I could be exotic or elegant or mysterious or simply more clever/smart/beautiful than I really am. Times when I wished I could fit in, belong, be one of the crowd, whatever the crowd is. I don't fit in anywhere--and I have given up trying. And I've discovered that it's very liberating to just be me. And sometimes it's fun to watch people try to reconcile the different aspects of who I am and make sense of it.
I used to enjoy dressing up in costume when I was younger, but the idea of going to a costume party right now me hives. I used to enjoy pretending to be someone else when I was a kid, but somewhere in the last twenty odd years, I kind of settled pretty well into my own skin and don't even want to bother. When we were teenagers, my friends and I would sometimes pretend to be British or French and affect accents to go along with new names. I always forgot my name and couldn't keep up the accent.
I am Kris or Kristina or Kristina Wright in everything I do. Every story I've written, with the exception of the two online stories I wrote over a decade ago, have been under Kristina Wright or some variation thereof. Kris Wright for my only gay erotic story, Lynn Cole (my middle name and maiden name) for an anthology that included two of my stories, Tina Simmons (the second half of my first name and my mother's maiden name, which was my legal name until I was 12) for a book that included three of my stories. All of my email addresses, with the exceptions of the ones for anthologies, are all variations of my real name.
Of course, using my real name doesn't mean people who don't know me in real life really know me. Reading my erotica (or any of my other fiction) may tell you a lot about my imagination, but it won't tell you much about who I am as a person, no matter how much a reader might assume otherwise. Reading the nonfiction I write, including my OGG posts, will give you a real glimpse into my life but it's only a snapshot, not the complete picture. The same with following me on various social networks or other blogs. All parts of the whole. Real, but incomplete.
Here's the truth-- no one really wants to know all of me, including the people who know me in real life. Maybe that's true for all of us who lurk on the fringes of several circles. Unless you're smack dab in the middle of whatever circle you're a part of, people are going to take what they're comfortable with and leave the rest in the closet. And that goes for the erotica writing circle, where my middle-aged, upper middle class life, 22 year marriage and 2 babies aren't very interesting, as well as for the suburban middle class circle, where my liberal politics, agnostic religious beliefs and erotica writing don't fit. I am not completely comfortable in any circle, but yet I can't even slip into the mask of what I'm supposed to be in order to fit into the circles I am a part of. Sigh.
I admire those writers who are able to slip in and out of their personas. I imagine it must be a relief to get to be someone else entirely, if only for a little while, and be completely accepted for being that particular identity. The masks authors wear are sometimes so believable that even I fall for them. I have been startled to realize that the names I've associated with some authors are actually pseudonyms. In fact, I once carried on lengthy email exchanges with two authors and didn't realize they were the same person until author A referenced the email I'd sent author B. The author wasn't trying to deceive me, but had assumed I was trying to keep the issues we were discussing separate. Ha! Now that is an author who is good at wearing a variety of masks-- and then there's me, taking everything at face value.
Does anyone really know me-- all of me? In truth, none of us is known (or knows anyone else) 100%. Human nature dictates that we keep something of ourselves private. Our secret hearts hold our most precious dreams and greatest fears, and we don't reveal all to anyone. On the other hand, anyone who has known me in real life or anyone who has access to the bulk of my online life could write a decent biography of me. And I'm okay with that. As I continue to struggle with my author "brand" I'm discovering that this is my brand-- being myself, being this very real person who has many facets, but only one name and one face-- and no masks at all.