My blogging doppelganger
Some people post pictures of themselves on their blogs, which is cool too, especially if they're photogenic. I am not photogenic, and refuse to believe that the typical picture of me looks anything like me at all. The camera not only doesn't love me, but seems intent on mortifying me as well.
In any case, many moons ago when I finally figured out how to post a profile "photo" to my blog, I asked my beloved, albeit blog-phobic "BG" to do a sketch I could use that would properly showcase my new blog-persona of Elvira Black.
BG, being a portrait artist, at first tried for verisimilitude. He produced a portrait of me that I hated because it looked too much like the real me. One of the banes of being a portrait artist is that when you are commissioned to do a piece, the client will sometimes be appalled at the results because it looks a little too much like them for their liking. Moreover, they may not even realize that they really do look that way. The truth, as they say, often hurts.
So I filed away BG's "realistic" picture of me, and insisted that he portray me more along the lines of Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. Some of you may not be familiar with this horror film hostess of yore, but she resembles a rather sexy vampire chick with long black hair and very big boobs. And so Elvira Black was born.
When it comes to writers and bloggers, I have to say that I'm usually more than content to simply imagine what they look like. Everyone wants to know what their favorite musician looks like, and I can't think of too many examples of rock stars who don't show their real, albeit glammed up faces and toned bodies to the world at large. But writers don't have to do music videos or concerts, for which most are eternally grateful. Writing is a much more solitary and cerebral (not to mention sedentary) pursuit, so adding a face to the writing is, to my mind, not only superfluous but sometimes detrimental as well.
And so it is that the more I read a "masked" writer's work, the more I imagine I know them, and I compose my own private portrait of them to match. This picture can become so entrenched that if I later see a photo of the real writer, I am sometimes gravely disappointed. Not necessarily because they're ungainly, but simply because they don't fit into the image I've created in my mind for them.
In my case, my blog doppelganger has morphed into a persona quite separate from the real me, which I'll refer to as "Ms. X." A few examples:
Elvira now has lots of friends in the blogosphere.
Ms. X has few "live" friends at present--in part because she can't seem to find too many people to her liking, and in part because she almost never leaves the apartment anymore--too busy blogging, don't you know.
Elvira has a sweet, melodious voice.
Ms. X is given to occasional screeching and kvetching, revealing her New York Jew-girl accent, especailly under duress.
Elvira has the body of a 24 year old.
Ms. X has the body of a 48 year old.
Elvira gets to speak her mind.
Ms. X has to listen to blowhards and bores speak their mind.
Elvira is vivacious and outgoing.
Ms. X is tentative and shy.
Elvira reveals intimate details about herself--up to a point.
Ms. X keeps herself to herself.
Elvira is a blatant blog and comment whore.
Ms. X, being ladylike and modest, does not promote herself, and only a few folks near and dear to her know she has a blog, or even that she is a writer.
Elvira writes for herself.
Ms. X wrote for the Man.
But come to think of it, Elvira is not really a "fake." She merely represents a different side of me--the writer's side. My brain simply works differently when I'm writing, and Elvira's brain (along with the computer) becomes one with mine. Plus which, rather than having those "what made me say that" or "I wish I'd said this instead" moments of mortification so frequent in real life, I can always edit myself so that I can (hopefully) say what I mean and mean what I say, and look good doing it.
Perhaps this is why, in the immortal words of Johnny Cash, I "haven't seen the sunshine since I don't know when." Elvira has, in a very real sense, hijacked Ms. X and consigned her to the shadows. Now Ms. X need only come out when she has to take a trip to the grocery store.
And sad though it may sound, up until recently this was just fine with me.