On the “Birth” of Public Figure

The creation of that which is not wholly ourselves alone.

The creation of that which is not wholly ourselves alone.

I suppose this is an appropriate topic to begin my presence in the “blogosphere,” though I have to confess that I’ve not spent much time digging through the first posts of various bloggers and authors to get a sense of if this is a tired cliche or note. I’ve only just decided to take serious the idea of having a twitter, a blog, etc. and the possibility of being a writer as an actual form of living, rather than a hobby. With that possibility, I was struck with a strange feeling, however. This is not a debut in a normal sense, to create one’s own public image. It is not being discovered among all the hopefuls, it is not being a young actor who makes it in film and is recognized, no. It is a birth, all its own.

For, in doing all this, I have to make choices. I have to go so far as to name myself — To decide if I ought have a pen name, or if I ought use my real name, my birth name, my given name. And in some cases, like on Twitter, imagine if that were taken. Imagine if there was no room for one more Jay Carter. I would need a new name. And in the case of most blogs, Jay Carter: The Blog, doesn’t sound nearly as interesting as some catchy handle, persona, or loose memoir-esque title, like Confessions of an Adult Velcro User, or some such thing. I’m sure this metaphor applies beyond that of writers, into the realm of all public figures (especially those that must be clean, like politicians), but I would like to stick to the experience I myself am having.

This metaphor of a birth is one I quite like. We have to decide what we’ll be as writers, as content creators, as public figures, all over again. You’re a food critic, or a film junkie, or provider of social commentary. But you can’t be all of them, can you? Maybe a few, and that blend is what makes you stand out: finding a way to blend food prep with the ethical considerations of an anti-imperialist Cuban expat’s child, or something. We exist multi-factedly, but we narrow our lives into what we’ll be, our career choices, our ambitions, our hobbies (if we are fortunate enough to let those define us instead). Writing is no different.

But the metaphor continues, because, as writers, we are new, we are fresh, we are then born and unpublished, naked to the world and unproven in its harshness. We must then be the child minds that create. And like children, we thrive on imagination. To be a writer — even if it’s in a “non-creative” capacity, like that of a journalist, or a non-fiction writer, or biographer, or whatever one might make an argument for being a non-creative writing capacity — is to exercise one’s imagination. It is to draw connections others have yet to see, to imagine ways to tell even the most documented and vivid events in a fresh way that gives more people that story. That is absolutely an imaginative endeavor. Otherwise, there would be no reason to listen when your friend tells you about a news story they read — to listen for their flair. You could cut them off, (barring the rudeness, I suppose)simply ask for the link, and infer that the article you read was objective and without moments of creativity or emphasis. Even works utterly free of embellishment, lies, and other manners of falsehood are not devoid of imagination.

And as children, we grow and learn, and everything is exciting and new again, because we’re learning to speak again for the first time, and we exist in a world where we assume everyone will want to hear what we have to say, because we ourselves just learned it. We have a life and a past that we draw from, but it will never absolutely mesh, and we find that in crafting our new selves, we must discard so much.

That is why this is a birth — because we are not ourselves recast.

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