Embracing My Multiple Personalities

No, I do not actually have a multiple personality disorder. Which is not to say that I am the picture of mental health. I am a writer, after all. But this is one clinical problem that I have been professionally reassured that I do not have. (Unless, of course, my other selves are conspiring to keep me in the dark.)

Questions of my sanity aside, however, I am now acknowledging that who I am, exactly, is not the easiest thing to keep track of. I finally got around to adding a “Who is Chris Pontius?” page here. You may or may not find it enlightening. And I will be the first to admit that it is, at best, vague and noncommittal. Because I’m still working on the full answer.

You see, I’ve been thinking this over for quite some time, but being back in the search for a day job while simultaneously committing to indulging my creative tendencies has forced me to make some decisions as to where I draw my lines, how I choose to define myself. Myselves. And this is what I’ve come up with so far:

1. My boring day-job self. This is what potential employers see if they don’t bother to follow the clues in my LinkedIn profile. Meaningless BA degree from a college they’ve never heard of; a fractured grad-school career; x number of years experience at this, y at that, and z at the other; and a fairly typical skill-set for a 40-something nerdgirl. Nothing truly exciting.

But I’m not quite so naïve as to think that there is any way to keep my other selves’ fingerprints off that profile. People who know my more interesting incarnations connect to me on LinkedIn, and quite frankly, the thought of keeping my LinkedIn profile all nice and focused and sanitized is downright tiring. So I made a conscious decision not only to quit fighting it, but to promote it to some degree. So instead of focusing on (I guess “branding” is the buzzword these days) my boring day-job self, I include allusions to my versatility. To my other selves. Such as…

2. Stina, a sort of free-form creative. I play music, well enough that sometimes people actually pay me to do so. And they have yet to offer to pay me to stop, which I take as a good sign. I write mystery stories, some of which have been published, however obscurely. My paternal grandmother taught me embroidery, and I recently picked up a quilting project we started together when she was alive. I’ve been reading since the age of three, and I now consistently review every book I read. I’ve published a few poems here and there, and one time I dashed off a little quatrain for a display at a bookstore café and was paid in coffee. (I wonder what would happen if I wandered around Old Town with a sign, “Will rhyme for coffee.”) I like melting pretty bits of glass to make jewelry, and again, sometimes people pay me for it. I’ve been a shutterbug ever since Dad loaned me his 35mm to take to church camp when I was a kid, and while I’ll never be a pro, I have a lot of fun with it and think I have turned out some pretty nice images. And I love to tap dance. I’m even kinda good at it.

Even within this persona, I have several nicknames that have attached to me over the years. Stinalyn and strixaluco are the most common. My stinalyn blog here serves primarily as an archive of my Goodreads book reviews, but if you go back far enough, you can see its origins as a general-interest blog that incorporated lots of Flickr photos. Is it wise to let potential employers know that I drop the occasional f-bomb in public and sometimes do silly things? Maybe not. But y’know what? I don’t really have the energy to care about it anymore. Yes, potential employer shaking your head as you browse my Flickr photostream and wonder just how many photos one woman can take of New Mexican clouds (answer: lots), I’m not fretting over what you think of me. You will either hire me or you won’t, and if you don’t want to hire me, then I don’t want to work for you. So there. 😛  (Was that childish of me? ::sigh:: Probably. Again with the not caring.)

And then there’s…

3. Chris, the professional writer. This is a tough one to describe, as it’s at once my oldest persona and my newest. Some of you will get that. Most of you won’t. And I’m not sure I want to explain it. For now, you will just have to learn to live with the ambiguity and watch the stories unfold.

Plan B

Plan B really isn’t that much different from Plan A. There are a few cosmetic differences up to this point (for example, Mile Hi Con didn’t have any language creation panels this year), and I actually stepped completely back from my manuscript in December instead of plowing ahead with edits. I did this for two reasons. One, my creative process during NaNo seems to be radically different from everybody else’s, and I wanted to pick that apart a bit and see what works and what doesn’t work and how I might want to change it. Two, I’m doing Jano with Sleuths’ Ink, during which I will try to implement a significant change in my creative process and see what happens.

I’ll post more about Jano later, but it’s sort of like NaNoWriMo, but with an extra day. It’s still the first day of January as I write this, so if you hurry, maybe you can catch up and join in. Like NaNo, it doesn’t cost anything to participate. For my Jano, I am essentially doing a complete re-write of the novel I wrote for NaNo. NaNo was, for me, a hugely messy, stream-of-consciousness brain dump. There was no way to edit it, at least not using the word “edit” the way anybody else does. November was extremely productive and inspired much creativity and got me to produce about 60,000 words that will eventually be shaped into something recognizable as a novel. But what I have currently is not something I could give to anybody for a critique. So my goal for Jano is not quite so much focused on the word count, rather on taking my NaNo product and re-writing it in a more coherent, linear fashion. Jano is a good venue for this because it will force me to focus on writing every day the same way NaNo did. Well, the way ML Jewels did, I should say.

So, the unveiling of Plan B:

Today: Catch up on reading Jano emails and get started on the actual re-write.

Daily in January: Add to my Jano word count.

Early February: Prep the Jano product for critique and seek out volunteers.

Mid February: Send the critique draft out for brutal attack.

March: Edit new draft based on critique feedback. Also, attend relevant panels at AnomalyCon and Left Coast Crime.

April: Contest-focused edits of the first 50 pages.

May: Contest submission! And I think this calls for opening that bottle of Chambourcin I picked up at Les Bourgeois when I was out that way for research.

Plan A

Wow! This post, which I wrote back in September, has miraculously reappeared! It just went poof and I could not find the draft anywhere. But here it is, more or less intact. And I’m happy to report that I’m still more or less on track, with just minor changes to Plan B.

– – – – – – – – – – –

They say one way to improve productivity is to not only set goals but to share them with others. It’s one of the cornerstones of NaNoWriMo, and I do believe that my active involvement in the local NaNo group last year is a large part of why I finally “won” after oh-so-many attempts in previous years. I do have that as a goal again this year, but this time I am considering it more of a stepping-stone sort of goal. My next significant goal is to enter the Killer Nashville contest for the 2013 Claymore Award.

I know myself well enough to know that I must give myself plenty of stepping-stones. So here’s the plan:

1. Research trip to Arrow Rock.

2. Trai’s seminar on developing voice.

3. Research reading.

4. Steampunk and language creation panels at Mile Hi Con.

5. Trai’s seminar on novelcraft.

6. Creation of working outline for NaNoWriMo. (A gods’-view timeline, actually. That is a post unto itself.)

7. NaNoWriMo 2012.

8. Basic development of steampunk patois.

9. NaNoEdMo 2012. (That would be National Novel Editing Month. AKA December.) Trai will most likely offer a seminar.

10. Critical assessment of rough draft. (This means finding brutal readers skilled in the art of constructive criticism.)

11. Edits focused on first 50 pages.

12. Alternate history panels at AnomalyCon 2013.

13. Critical assessment of first 50 pages.

14. Contest-focused edits of first 50 pages.

15. Contest submission.

:: deep breath ::

It’s just 50 pages. That’s, what, half a NaNo?