Sunday, February 10, 2013

Sarah T and Sarah D

Sarah Toa and her alter ego - that woman who was birthed as Sarah D -  are set on a course to collide sometime very soon. My book is coming out this year and I'm building a website under my real name to sell it and to publish the photographs I have taken of the fisher men and women whom I've been writing about for five years or so.

Most of these guys would prefer to remain anonymous. They are quiet people who work the inlets every day. Having their images posted on the internet may bother them. (I'll ask them first, mind.) They are capable of accessing the weather reports and getting the latest market prices but they are still old-school when it comes to their privacy. Fisher folk and gold prospectors will never change like that.

Anyway, what I'm really on about is how to move from this winedark sea telling ripping yarns, to a public persona who has to flog her book. When we were driving from Albany to Denmark yesterday, my friend said, 'whenever I am faced with two choices like yours, I choose both.' I really like this. Choose both.

This blog has been a space for me to bare my throat, to expose my belly. Originally my pseudonym was created to protect me from litigation but everyone in this small town knows who I am anyway. sarah toa freed me up to go Beloved on the arse of people and corporations that gave me the shits, whilst dressed in an attractive princess warrior suit and raising a middle finger to the world.
(Beloved? Read Toni Morrison and weep.)

Writing as sarah toa also taught me to write as a human being, to admit my frailties ... it is a great leveller that pseudonym. But what happens when my first book comes out and the reviews begin? I know the reviewers will google my name and find the stories about love affairs and parties and my cranky outbursts about dredging our harbour and photographs of my grand daughter and legendary screw ups.

I'll get over this (It's like turning forty - you freak for the month beforehand and get up on your birthday and life is still quite okay ... ) but right now on the eve of publication, it is a conundrum. I'm not giving up sarah toa because I like her/me. A WineDark Sea and her followers have nurtured me for years. I don't want to censor myself but I have to learn how to protect this sarah toa child.
I choose both.


14 comments:

  1. I'm not giving up 'Tom Stephenson' either. It is useful to have a name which deflects the admiration of your real one, no matter how bad your writing is.

    All the very best,

    Johnny Depp. XXX

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  2. I don't have any ready answers but I can honestly say, I get it!

    I am considering putting my blog on ice (already have a little largely due to Uni students googling me) but re book I will probably make it inaccessible for a while. It is wise to protect one's self. Maybe reverting to draft any posts you wouldn't want to share in a crowded room with strangers...??? Otherwise, go public! Privacy is not what it was.

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    1. Thanks Sontag. Yes, it is interesting. I'm thinking about just getting over myself and attaching the blog to the website. What bothers me the most is that I will have a critic looking over my shoulder every time I come here.
      It's a shame you will be inaccessible as Sontag. I have really enjoyed the Optimist the last few years.

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  3. I really relate to this issue. I am by nature a middle-finger-up sort of gal, BUT, like Sontag, I work for agencies like the corrections and education departments and now a uni with a good reputation. It's a really frustrating issue and it has caused me to censor myself a hell of a lot more than I would like.

    What frustrates me is that we are human beings first, and then worker, lecturer, member of society second. Maybe that's an indulgent Western construct. Regardless of what I think, I still have to keep my job because I need to. Sometimes I feel like I have sold out....but I need to eat and I'm too old to prune grapes or pick strawberries.

    There would be no conflict if the culture in which we operated REALLY applied the principles it espouses.

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  4. Thanks MF.
    I suspect Tom may be right, that this could be a confected conundrum but it is pretty real right now. The irony is that the book was created right here!

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  5. Choose both = twice the fun? Funny how a pseudonym gives us permission to say and share things we might not readily do if we were our selves - but we are! Any friends who visit my site know who I am albeit thinly disguised - a photo for god's sake! I, too, am careful in my opinions about my workplace though inclined to be more careless as I care less about job security etc. I am equally conscious of the need to be cautious when writing about friends. One makes choices and hope they are wise, mindful that they exist in the real world.

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    1. Spot on Mr Hat, this is the real world!

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  6. There is the personal here, of course, and I can understand your being uncertain how some may view what you've posted over the years but I would also add that there is more than enough here to boost your credentials. Way more. A WineDark Sea is a work of art Sarah T, and your art is class. :-)

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  7. That is a very nice thing to say Ciaran. Thanks :~)

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  8. Here's to choosing both, Sarah. I think you'll find you can keep the two worlds separated and the two 'personas' a bit separate too. While most of us wouldn't like the idea of people going through our underwear drawer, we all have underwear drawers and when it comes down to it, we are all flawed. I like to know that a writer I admire is human and brave enough to be open about their inner stuff.

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    1. Yes, here's to choosing both Melba. Chi-ching!

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  9. Excellent solution, Sarah. So glad you decided to choose both.

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