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 – join Team Aniko


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