The Writer’s Persona


Last night, I was a deer in the headlights. I had to give a public, sit-down interview to a visiting writing at my college. At first, I thought it would be simple, penning a few questions that were interesting and having her respond. I didn’t realize it was recorded. Or that I’d have to sit up there the entire hour in a hard chair with my back kinking wondering if I should shift or stay still.

In real life, I’m a loud mouth. But you put me in front of a microphone and I start to freeze. My voice shakes. My heart pounds. And instead of focusing on the task at hand, my mind loops wondering what the hell I’m doing and what would happen if I just got up and left or kicked the table over and ran out the door.

The most interesting question I asked her was the difference between her writing voice / persona and her real one. Because I feel I reveal more about myself in writing, that my sensitivity shows through. In my real life, I’m more sarcastic and funny. My writing tends to be serious and heavy. So, I’m throwing out the question to all my writer /reader friends out there. Is this something you experience, too? What is the difference between your public face and private writing voice?


10 Responses to “The Writer’s Persona”

  1. That’s a great question. Personally — and I think it is the nature of column writing — how I write isn’t far removed from who I am and how I speak. Except that in my columns (ok, I’m about to reveal something here) I’m not quite as inept in real life as I sometimes make myself out to be. But I learned a long time ago it’s better to make fun of yourself than others… Unless it’s the Kardashians or Bruce Jenner.

  2. I think I write how I speak, my friend read over my blog and said it sounded just like me. But it’s easier to say something clever when you write because there is more time to think, Ill usually think of a clever/funny thing to say a day or two after a conversation I had has ended.

    • Agreed. Writing gives you time to pause and purposely construct. I just blurt what comes out and sometimes live to regret it. Thanks for commenting.

  3. Good question!

    I’m certainly a lot more poignant in my writing. Although, lately my writing seems on par with the dribble I’m usually found saying. But even still, the language I use in my writing is a hundred times better than in real life speech. I curse far too often in real life.

    I also think a lot in my “writer’s brain/voice”. Does anyone else do that?

    • For sure my inner voice is in par with my writer’s voice. I think that is the mark of a writer, in my opinion. Thanks for commenting!

  4. Your post put me in mind of a documentary about Joan Rivers I saw a few years ago. In her case, she’s the reverse. She’s far more sensitive in real life.

    I’ve only been writing regularly since Jan. 1, so it’s probably premature to speak as a “writer.” Like girlseule, I’ve been told by a couple of people that my blog sounds like me. However, it’s more like how I sound on certain days and not others. I’ve chosen to avoid frivoulous things on my blog, except for cute animals.

    I have emotional outbursts in person. I just had a major fight with my sister about the fact that the people who cut her lawn are illegal aliens. It’s not their legal status that concerned me. It’s that “no one gives a shit. This is why I can’t get a fucking job. I’d still be a housepainter. No one cares about how well anything is done. Why do I care? Why do I make an effort? Why can’t I be like everyone else and not give a shit?” I keep that sort of barely coherent tirade off my blog. It’s not a question of creating a persona, exactly. It has to do with why I created a blog in the first place. I wanted to write about the thoughts I have that no one I know wants to listen to. Oddly, people listen to that stuff. What people don’t listen to are the more measured thoughts I have, the sort of things I’m rambling on about when my mother tells me I’m boring.

    Interestingly, a boyfriend told me that I come across very differently when I speak French, gentler, softer and a little bit timid. Once I get a super rough draft in English, I intend to start translating it to French. A Polish girl who is also fluent in English and Spanish once told me that her personality is just a little bit different in each language.

    It was interesting reading Ned’s comment about making fun of himself. In person, I actually have a very self-deprecating style of humor, which I find doesn’t go over at all on the internet. Apparently, if you make a joke about a dumb thing you did, people on the internet actually think you’re dumb.

    It’s a good question.

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