Friday, September 29, 2006

Juggling Your Multiple Personalities

Juggling seems to be a recurrent theme with me; whether I'm juggling the many projects I'm working on or work and writing time with other obligations. Sometimes, I think I should have become a circus performer. The hours would have been great, I could have traveled to exotic locales like Buffalo and Kalamazoo, and I eventually would have been able to juggle fire! Whoo hoo! Fire good.

However, instead of traveling in the clown car, I get to juggle my mulitple personalities. Now, I'm not talking about a full out textbook case of szchiophrenia, I'm talking about those personalities of mine that write different genres from me and how to keep them straight and their careers on the right track.

Why am I thinking of this now when I'm on the cusp of having both my personas have books coming out at the same time? Well, because I'm adding a third name to my already full table. That's right, I've decided to assign yet another personality for my romantic suspense. Perhaps I can blame the branding workshops I attended at nationals for my increased want of a third name, but it really comes down to anonminity.

I love having people see my name in print. What a thrill it was when I first say my name in a magazine with my own byline. Holy Hannah, I had my name in print!!! I never thought that could happen to me...and a short story even. Something that I had created with my own mind and fingers and imagination. Outside of losing my viriginity and getting married (not that I got married because I lost my viriginity), it was one of the single most important and thrilling moments of my life.

But can one be thrilled when the name they see in print isn't one they were given by their parents, or were married into? Yes, absolutely. For me it's both. I chose personas that have variations of my name and my husband's so there is still a deep personal connection to me. And what about the subject matter they write. If it's so different, how do you keep it straight?

The answer for me is: overlap.

I haven't written a paranormal yet that doesn't have a core of romantic suspense. My erotic romances have that same suspenseful center, though they have a large chunk of action as well. To me, suspense and action are not necessarily the same thing...they can be, but not always. (Ever see the movie Rear Window? That's suspense without much action. Great movie!) But overlapping elements is key to juggling your personalities and making them work for you and not going crazy trying to change voice, and texture of your work.

That's not saying my new persona—who will heretofore be known as Kate Davison—writes dark and moody like MK and Kathleen do. Kate has a tongue-in-cheek approach to her suspense and a bit of off-beat humor, even with the suspense. I think a bit of irreverant humor is sometimes called for. (Though a recent editor hated my voice because she felt it was not what she'd expected from a romantic suspense. Oh well, can't please 'em all.) - In my reality, the more grave the situation the more likely I am to hear someone make a wisecrack, or tell what to some may be considered an inappropriate joke. (If you work in healthcare or law enforcement you know what I mean. Those are two professions where if you don't have a slightly skewed sense of humor you simply won't survive past your first year.) So, dearest Kate will appeal to people who get that side of dark humor - think Fargo or Gun Shy.

I think playing to your strengths no matter your voice, or personality at the time is very important in crafting your work. It will also help in making the personality juggle a world-class performance worthy of Ringling Brothers themselves.

Do you juggle, and if so what is your key to success or secrets?


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