"The Many Faces of Me" or How We Create Personalities in this Frantic World
I've thought about a topic for this blog post quite a bit over the past week and more often than not I lost the thread of my ideas because of continual interruptions.
"Derr, you're not alone," you might say, and you wouldn't be wrong. Everyone experiences the diversions, expected and unexpected, that has become normal in modern life.
As a writer I study personality -- you have to if you're going to present believable characters to your readers. But this past week forced me to psychoanalyse myself a little. And while I was at it, I wondered whether everyone is beginning to feel the stress of trying to be all things to all people. When did life get so complicated? When did so many people start demanding so much of my time? And when did I develop all these personas that seem to now compose ME in order to cater to all these demands?
Unlike my characters, I can't always be consistent. I find that with my writer buddies I can let my creative, bizzare personality break its leash. I can crack 'funnies' and not feel stupid if they don't hit the mark -- afterall, writers test out lines or scenarios all the time, and often the more bizzare or ludicrous the better they might work.
The obvious and logical is deemed 'ho-hum'. We brainstorm as a matter of course. We can be frivolous and explore the fantastic, the inane or the erotic and nobody in the group will judge ideas beyond whether or not they might work in the context of our piece of work. This ME loses time on a regular basis, is spontaneous and light-hearted.
At the same time, I set aside the 'personal' ME.
That ME is divorced from the work; divorced, for the most part, from the randomness of creative ideas.
When with my immediate family I have to have a more sensible persona. In that compartment of life I not only have responsibility as joint head of household, I must provide a living example to my children. I must 'react' to conditions immediately and am duty-bound to problem-solve with directness and logic. The inane can be fatal!
Thus the creative, frivolous ME has to be held in check. She isn't quashed, but she's only let out in small, gentle bursts. Nurturing is necessarily a higher priority than personal desire or creative thinking. This ME must always observe a schedule, be it meals, chores or other commitments -- this me cannot afford to 'lose time' and must remain in the present reality.
"Of course, that's normal," you say. And in truth it can't be any other way. But that 'family ME' has other distractions that I can't help indulging. For instance, that ME spends way too much time online blogging or tweeting discussing politics. My writer friends might say I use this diversion as a way to procrastinate from my writing, but I actually need such diversions to keep myself sane. I need to keep in contact with an outer world and feel like I am participating. Writing is a very isolating profession.
With my extended family and closer friends, I become a slightly watered-down version of the family ME. Those gentle bursts of creative thinking are mere undercurrents that rarely surface. After all, I have an image to protect and a clearly-defined position within the family structure. Duties demand certain behaviours which we all recognise.
The business ME, the woman who works or deals with the professional side of my life is always censored. Parts of my brain and personality are necessarily disengaged or somnolent. This is the flattest of my personalities as behaving outside expectation leads to harsh judgments from others. We all, for instance, know of a colourful person who we both applaud (for their honesty) and cringe about (because they can embarrass). This ME sits right, dresses right, converses a certain way and generally stifles creativity.
This ME is also most alert, most conscious of the people and things around her. In writing this would be my most unbelievable personality.
The inner ME (the private dreamer, lover, the spiritual personality) in contrast, is the least defined and least seen of my personalities. We all know why, of course. This one is the most vulnerable. The most frightened. The most uncertain.
And yet this is the one we romance writers spend the most time writing about. We delve into the inner personality of our characters because she is the one we most identify with. As human beings we want to know that we aren't alone in our vulnerability. That we aren't alone in our secret desires and needs.
And we also want to believe that ultimately, that inner ME will win out. It won't be abandoned. Won't be hurt or destroyed. And though we believe she is the most flawed, she will find true love.
Yet as writers, we try very hard not to expose our own inner ME when creating one for our characters. I doesn't always work, of course. If we read a body of work by a particular author certain themes will become apparent. But we do try to avoid such personal exposure, perhaps to maintain the illusion that we are protecting our true self.
In between all these MEs I expect there are a multitude of other personalities lurking. Personalities I manufacture in answer to the circumstances life presents me. Personalities designed to meet every demand of our complicated and multi-faceted lives.
How many personalities do you have?
Jennifer Brassel, Feb 19, 2012.
Jenny Brassel has been writing forever. She writes fiction in the romance, young adult and historical genres. Her work has finaled and won a number of prestigious US competitions, including: Passionate Ink's 'Stroke of Midnight'; FTHRW 'Wallflower' Best Scene; MRWA 'Reveal Your Inner Vixen' & Missouri RWA's 'Golden Gateway'.
Titles currently available:
TRUST IN DREAMS (romance, eBook)
Elizabeth Reynold is a dedicated doctor whose life is all mapped out. She knows what the future holds: hard work, a rewarding career and a sensible match. Loveless and unexciting this may be, but it is safe safe from love and the pain it causes. Only in her sleep does she dare to dream of something more.
Chris Grant is the most popular star on Australian television. His ideal woman is out there somewhere, a woman who can see past the fame and fortune to love him for himself. He is certain he's found the woman of his dreams and will do anything to win her over.
But Elizabeth knows actors cannot be trusted, are never who they seem. Will she learn to trust in herself and follow her dreams?
HONOUR BOUND (romance, eBook)
Gwen Morgan's orderly life is shattered when her flatmate is brutally attacked. Until the man responsible is caught, she'll never feel safe with any man who fits the attacker's sketchy description.
Martial Arts expert, Lance DeLaker, is instantly attracted to the young woman who comes to him seeking help for her friend. But how can he get past her fears and prove he can be gentle as well as strong?
When Lance learns his best friend has already staked a claim, can he do the honourable thing and stay away from the only woman he has ever wanted? Can they break free and discover true love knows no bounds?
COINS OF POWER (YA eBook, Print)
On her 15th birthday, Paige Vaughan is sent the third in a series of weird gifts from her crazy Welsh aunt. Strange things begin to happen when Paige meets with Cameron Sloan, a new kid in school, who has received similar gifts and a quarterstaff from his grandfather in Scotland.
The pair are attacked by the monster, Balor, who is seeking to steal their coins and gain power. Though they repel Balor this time, Paige and Cameron know he will not rest till he has stolen each magical talisman that they possess. With the help of two friends they attempt to harness the magic of the objects entrusted to them.
When Cameron's coin is stolen and they discover they are being stalked by Balor's henchmen, a band of stinking sea-monsters, they realize it is a race against time to save the last coin and prevent the talismans' power falling into Balor's destructive hands.