Just how much should we share about our lives in the virtual world? For each of us it’s different. For some nothing is off limits, while for others even writing under their legal name is too terrifying. I’m somewhere in between, but probably on the less is better side of the spectrum.
I don’t think people would be interested to know how difficult it is for me to find shoes for my Herman Munster sized feet, or how when I find a pair of jeans my body is happy to slide into that I will buy out every pair in stock. What would people think of me if they knew on my bookshelves I have two complete sets of the Harry Potter series, both the American and British version. What about the two and three copies each, of Lonesome Dove, Prince of Tides, Jane Eyre, Atlas Shrugged, and Scarlett that can be found in my bookcases? I can’t even explain why the titles are favorites. I’d be hard pressed to explain why every time I read The Long Good-bye, I pretend I’m one of Chandler’s dames. Seriously.
Writers in the digital age are supposed to be open and honest. We’re expected to expose our humanity and vulnerabilities, and dispel the image of being lofty and intellectual. Psssh. I put my Spanx on one leg at a time just like the next person and call 911 after I’ve hiked them over my bum. Then, I pray they don’t roll down my legs while I’m standing in line for coffee. But the truth is I favor keeping a few secrets, fueling the mystique of Brenda, the reformed, or is that recovering, introvert. I like gabbing as much as the next person, but there is an invisible line I struggle crossing.
I have a past just like the next person. There are skeletons, some baggage, there is the tale of the unreturned libraries books—at least two—the boy whose name I can’t remember, and the one I will not likely forget. My highlights are not genetic. Somewhere out there are pictures of me taken after too much Tequila. I’m not overly keen confessing I had to sit through Statistics, not once, but twice, or that I needed a tutor to help me through high school Algebra. And I may be a writer but you’d never find me filling in the tiny squares of the New York Time’s crossword puzzle.
What would my first boyfriend—assuming he knew I thought of him that way all those years ago—found out I had a crush on him in high school on my blog or my first author interview? I suppose if Jerry Springer were conducting the interview it wouldn’t be out of context. Right? Right. And then there was that lover, the one who broke my heart. Would it surprise him to learn that because of him I write romantic tales of love, loss, heartache, regret, new beginnings, and life ever after. It’s OK for Taylor and Adele, but a curvy Latina in the burbs using tidbits of her life as fodder on the page. I don’t think, as least I hope he doesn’t, read the dedication. Fingers crossed.
For a reformed introvert it’s painfully uncomfortable revealing the intimate details of a life spent in the shadows. On the other hand, being just out of view has taught me a great deal about human nature and our behaviors, and has been a constant source of fuel for my over active imagination. Some would say it’s the optimal vantage point for a writer. I listen when I shouldn’t be. I see what’s not meant for my eyes. Maybe that’s why I continue to struggle with how much to confess is too much. I haven’t a clue but I suspect there is a spectrum ranging from fun and fascinating to uncomfortable and painful.