Friday, July 16, 2010

Taking on a Persona

There has been much debate about taking on a pseudonym when nonfiction writers publish their work. My two mentors, Susan and Dan, take the position of Joan Didion: "Writers are always selling somebody out." They feel like we have creative rights to our stories and shouldn't have to ask permission or hide behind a fake name to tell them. Several of us nonfiction students have, at one time or another, faltered in our faith that our families will still be around after we publish our first memoir, and every time that happens, they get more and more militant about writers having exclusive rights on their story, and the RIGHT to tell their story.

As I have progressed through the MFA program, I have slowly built up my courage to tell my story without changing names and telling details for anonymity's sake. However, I have had a strong need to construct a persona in my humor writing. I think I have always had some sort of persona in my writing, and I especially noticed this in my writing last semester. I think the motivation for me has been because there are things that I think in the course of the day that not very civil - things you wouldn't say in front of "polite company." Even though these thoughts are a little rough around the edges sometimes, it seems that these are the thoughts that my friends and family can relate to more than anything else I say. I think it's because I write and say things that other people think and feel, but would rather not share with the class.

For example, I was talking to my sister the other day about my two-year-old and about my frustration with his ongoing obsession with Thomas the Tank Engine. The only way to express how I feel when I see the same 20 episodes every week was just to say, "Thomas and Percy are the bane of my existence." Obviously, that statement is hyperbolic, but any mother of a two-year-old boy will know exactly how I feel.

So, to give myself a creative outlet without the trouble of public scrutiny, I have set up an anonymous web presence to allow myself to say whatever I feel without the censorship that I usually apply to my everyday speech. I must say, I haven't been so excited about a writing project in a while, and to be honest, I don't say anything that scandalous or foul. It's just nice to feel the freedom that comes from the absence of censorship sometimes.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Gearing Up

Now that all of the diseases of the world have exited my house, and our wonderful July 4th vacation is over, I am preparing to work on my 25-page critical paper by re-reading all of the books that I will use as my primary resources. However, unlike the beginning of the past two semesters, every time I look at my unassuming stack of Primary Resources beside my bed, my stomach sinks.

The reason for this is both clear and unclear to me.

First of all, I will say that the reasons that I should NOT be nervous are that:

1. As always, I have a great mentor this semester - Dan Wakefield - and he is one of the kindest, caring, wisest people I know.

2. I have the mental capability to handle this project, and, at the end of the day, I know that I will succeed in finishing it.

3. The past two semesters at Converse have completely prepared me for this project.

Still, I have a sinking feeling because I am not confident that I will ace this task. I feel like I may bomb it, in fact. As in I may turn in a "B" or, heaven forbid, a "C" quality paper. An over-achiever, I am.  A sore loser, I am.

The only real positive thing I have going for me is that I feel passionate about my topic. I named my blog about it! So, that should motivate me to continue writing and quiet down some of the negative thoughts that will surely come swooping through my brain as I try to make sense of my thoughts. To all who are facing a similar task, I send good feelings and happy thoughts.