There’s a light, what light!

What was once mine, is everyone’s from now on .

I thought I knew what that meant. I did not. I am sure I still haven’t felt the full force of the transition from super-private introvert to a published author; my journey is just begun. Already, though, things are different. My author persona is seeping into my daily life. She’s more bold than I ever was. She knows what she wants and I don’t plan to stand in her way. She’s tough and funny and – despite being a horror writer – a pretty nice person. Ballsy, but polite.

In some very real sense, not only is my book everyone’s from now on, so is my public persona. My authorial presence was engineered to be separate from my office and family life; I published under my middle name, but I do not live my life under my middle name. This choice was intentional and carefully considered.

Aniko is a great deal more approachable and easier to spell than my first name. I like the sound of Aniko Carmean, where Aniko is pronounced Ahn-ik-o, with the stress on Ahn. Aniko was a branding decision. A branding decision that has become a catalyst for real change. Indeed, the separation between how I thought of myself ‘out in the world’ and how I could choose to be ‘as an author’ gave me the courage to start a blog, to network with other writers and readers, and to launch my writing career. The daily me is (or was?) too retiring and private to ever engage the world so openly. The leap from that level of solitude to being out there took exposing a facet of my personality that would embrace community rather than skirt the edges of it. To have any hope of success as a writer, I had to become a digital extrovert.

The launch of Stolen Climates was like a wedding reception: both sides mingling in merriment. People who knew nothing about my writer-self found my blog. More than one person observed, and not without the tiniest bit of shock, that I “have a whole other life out there.” Another friend told me that seeing me in person after reading my blog was like meeting my “alter ego.” I never anticipated my illusory bifurcation would have an effect on people who know me out here in the mundane reaches of meat and nine-to-fives. Of course, I never anticipated it would have any real effect on me, either. After all, I’m not fabricating an imaginary person, but instead focusing on largely untapped aspects of who I have always been. This experience illustrates how very easy it is for us to be typecast as one particular version of ourselves. It is a reminder that I am, even at this moment of awareness, defining someone I know too narrowly. As magical as names are, they can become cages. Free your friends, free yourself: go by a new name!

For example:

Aniko Carmean. She’s shaking things up. Her demands require more focus on writing, less sleep, more white wine, and a Twitter account. She insists on writing daily, on making it through the first draft in months, rather than the lollygagging, loafing years acceptable to my non-author self. There was a six month period between completing Stolen Climates and deciding what I was going to do next where the not-Aniko-me learned to love excess sleep. Aniko doesn’t have time for that; she gets exactly the amount of sleep she needs to function, but not a minute more. Fare thee well, long Saturday snoozes. And white wine? I was always a red wine drinker. Let’s just say Aniko and I don’t see eye to eye on Twitter, either.

In some way, choosing to be brave has made me brave. It’s given me the courage to look at the structure of my life and make substantial changes. As a result:

  • I start a new job next week
  • I have this blog
  • I’ve found a network of supportive writers
  • I write more prolifically and with less self-doubt
  • I believe in my potential
  • I live my passion.

Aniko has always been here, I know, but I’m finally acknowledging her. She is me. Me, with a laser focus on spending energy on pursuits integral to the core of my being.

You can get in on this action Рjoin Team Aniko! 

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20 thoughts on “There’s a light, what light!

  1. Oh Aniko I LOVED this post.
    I too, choose to write under a pen name–although mine is completely made up. I agree that it has offered me a venue for a side of myself that was not completely invisible, but surely hidden a bit. I love being Penelope AND Dea…the only thing I regret is giving my parents access to Penelope’s blog–she is a bit darker than my parents understand.
    It sounds as if you are on a wonderful path Aniko–I wish you all the best.
    Penelope

  2. It’s funny, you know, in some ways I really can’t relate – my author “persona” is pretty much the same person I am day-to-day, and I couldn’t really imagine writing under a different name long-term. But I’ve still encountered some of what you describe here, especially the way people have looked at me differently. Oh, sure, my job is technical writing, so they knew I had some passion for writing, but they didn’t seem to understand that this might involve something beyond the day-to-day of user manuals. It took some time for me to adjust to having that side of myself out in the world, even if not much had changed from my perspective.

    You seem to be handling all of this pretty well, but yeah, there is definitely something of an adjustment period, and I have a feeling there are more to come as your career advances. In the meantime, glad to hear you’re enjoying it!

    • People seem to be entirely thrown by my genre! I smile a lot, and I’m always making silly jokes, and I think the biggest adjustment for my real-life contacts is the fact that I am not only silliness and smiles. For my part, it was a surprise to me that people were surprised by me! :-)

      My day job is software dev, but I’m switching to the QA department because I can’t create code and fiction without getting dangerously burned out. It was a super tough decision. Not entirely out of left, as I was a tester for several years prior to becoming a developer, but still a huge career choice. I would love to be a tech writer someday! Congrats to you on being there already!

      And – big thanks for being as encouraging as you’ve been! It means so very much. Thanks!!

      • Okay I thought I had subscribed to comments on this post and obviously something went wrong. Hmph!

        I can’t even begin to fathom coding and writing. That’s insane dedication. At least my job involves writing, so the lines can blur at times – if I write a few hundred words when I get to work, it’s really in the name of warming up for what I already do. Trying to fit it in with the coding…yeah. I’ve been on a lot of dev jobs that consumed my life and I wasn’t even the coder. Congrats, though, on choosing a healthier lifestyle in the long term, even if it’s a little disappointing professionally.

        Thanks! I like to say it’s my second-favorite dream job, and I know I’m very lucky to get paid for my writing in some form. I hope you can make it there!

        You’re welcome. I wouldn’t be so encouraging if I didn’t think you had the skill, that’s for sure! :)

      • It was very tough to balance coding and my creative writing. I think that there’s a limited amount of creative energy I have access to each day, and that sometimes I’d end up writing checks against the future balance of the creativity account. I was never in the black, and it was exhausting.

        I think the job change will only be disappointing in that people always say, “Wow, you write code! You must be smart!” when you tell them you’re a programmer. Silly ego-rush, but addictive. There’s a lot of writing in testing: write test cases, write up defect reports, document process. I like the way you describe your tech writing job as a bit of a warm-up for your other writing. I’d love to feel my job was bolstering rather than depleting my writing reservoir!

        Second-favorite dream job? Is first… full-time writer of fiction? Or something entirely different, like fire fighter or astrophysicist?

  3. So true. As someone who writes under different names and vastly different genres, I draw from each of those personalities daily. Sometimes they boost me, and sometimes I boost them. MPD, for a writer, is a very good thing.

    • It fascinates me how a persona can become a source of strength. I’m sure the opposite can happen as well, and I realize visualization and belief don’t always hold up to reality. Yet, there’s transformation and growth to be had by continuing to ‘play’ make believe. As writers, we get more opportunity to continue to hold court in our own imaginations. We’re a lucky group, even if we are a bit outside the norms of sanity!

  4. I’ve written a few shorts under a couple different names. I have one for my more debaucherous self and one for my much darker side, but I ran into a quandary recently. I had a story that was going to be perfect for an anthology, but I had written it under my darker pen name. At this point, I had invested a fair amount of time developing my Paul D. Dail persona and had to decide if I was willing to have that piece published under my “real” name.

    I decided that if I wanted to get publicity from the piece, I would have to put it out under the same name as my novel. Ultimately, the piece wasn’t accepted into the anthology, so it was kind of a moot point, but it was an interesting point for me and my “other selves.”

    p.s.- Glad you clarified the phonetics of your name. I’d been putting the accent on the middle syllable.

    Paul D. Dail
    http://www.pauldail.com- A horror writer’s not necessarily horrific blog

    • Everyone, to a person, has pronounced Aniko as Ah-neek-o (accent on neek) the first time they see it. They are surprised my middle name is Japanese. That is a surprise to me, too, because my middle name is as Hungarian as all of my names were, pre-marriage!:-)

      I didn’t know there were alternates in Dailverse! Debaucherous and dark and the Dail I know. Other selves that are kept truly separate from the primary self sound difficult to manage, and almost as if they are just waiting to be joined in some tremendous literary outpouring.

      Sorry the anthology didn’t come through but I have no doubt there are lots more opportunities for you just around the corner!

  5. Wow, how terrific that writing allowed you to bring out your inner self. I feel like a different person in each of my two (or three or four) worlds, too, and I think I like the writer the best.

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