Saturday, April 14, 2012

April Showers: Author Persona!

Hi, folks. I had the opportunity to hear Paul Christensen, poet and professor at Texas A&M, speak about author persona. He lit all kinds of fire in me about storytelling. This here is going to be Texas rain shower, the kind that makes you pull over the car and wait it out. Author persona is about who is telling your story. I know, you are, but it's not quite you, is it?

Persona is a term used by actors. It's the character played by the actor. Back in the day, ancient actors used a theatrical mask when playing a part. They held that mask in front of them and became the character behind the mask. Eventually the mask went by the wayside, and actors simply put forth the character. The mask was a symbol -- the everyday person is gone from this body, and a conjurer has appeared who brings forth voices. I'm calling it the aggrandized self. Who is telling your stories? Do you have a mask? Can you define it?

I'm going to make a confession. I think about the characters. I think about the plot. I delve into the information. I don't think I've ever thought about who is telling my story, my author persona, but I had noted that my stories seem to be coming from different places within me. The person telling the story, is me but not exactly. I'm a mouse in life. I'm a lion on paper. I've always noticed this difference. I love it when someone reads my work and looks at me and says, "Who are you?" I hate it when someone reads my work and goes "meh". I've gotten a sense that "meh" writing means that the mouse-me is getting in the way of the lion-me.

On top of that, I've always worried about writing in more than one genre. I mean that's crazy, right? I'm happy to report, this whole persona thing put my worries to rest forever. I have a several author personas not just one. All four are easy to quantify. I have a quintessential storyteller who sits on the back porch and doles out wisdom and lore to the neighbors in equal measures. I also have a wise, joke-cracking, fedora-wearing, unbound comedian lurking in here too. There's a twelve year old girl with way too much responsibility on her shoulders who feels there is so much more in the universe and no one will listen to her. And last I have this children's librarian who loves to read to the kids coming into her library who have limited opportunities and need to know, oh, so much more about the world. These are my personas. Not me, but the pieces of me, "the contradictory multitudes" spoken of by Walt Whitman in "Song of Myself" who tell my stories.

I think understanding who is telling your stories will help you execute them with more confidence. Confidence is everything, folks. The great writers put aside the hope for publication, the need for fame, the question if they will suceed or not etc. and give the reins to the "Persona" who does not fail. Let your persona(s) emerge. Here's the deal -- thank you, Paul Christensen -- the 'persona' will love wider, forgive more, be unafraid, and know the answers. The 'persona' will channel the hidden meaning on the page. What mask are you wearing? Are you afraid to put it on? Are you letting the noise of your real life hamper the storytelling of the "persona?" Oh, heady stuff, writer friends.

I really hope this helps. See you next week

Here is this week's doodle: "Baby."

Here is the fiery quote of the day:

I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable,
I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.
Walt Whitman


MollyMom103 said...

Here is an add on. Please follow the link to download an excerpt of my novel PLUMB CRAZY. Like or review it if you have time and inclination. Thanks.

The link:

Candylynn Fite said...

Ah, personas...I have many, too. I used to feel a bit multi-personality, but I know it's just what make me, ME. I wouldn't have myself any other way.

~Writer of the gardener, mother, wife, sister, friend, children storyteller, young adult wanna-be, yogini, nature-lover, and the list goes on!

I have Plumb Crazy dog-eared on my bookmarks. I look forward to reading it! Congrats!

MollyMom103 said...

Thanks for posting here. We do wear a lot of hats!