That’s Not My Name (December 16, 2010)

When my sister Jen suggested we collaborate on a blog in early 2009, I wasn’t sure I was up to the challenge. An instantaneous and persistent fear of having nothing to say, of trying to sustain my creativity, but finding the well barren, almost kept me from trying.

On this point at least, it seems I worried for naught. Apparently, I have plenty to discuss. In May of this year, I took my musings to Open Salon at the suggestion of fellow blogger Mad Typist. Rather than reinvent the wheel, I post the exact same content in both forums – the joint venture I operate with Jen, as well my personal space there. In the spirit of streamlining, I also took my avatar, Becky Boop, with me.

Jen suggested we take pen names for security reasons. She is a mother of two young daughters, and she wanted to keep the personal information contained in her posts to a bare minimum. There’s just a lot of creeps out there. We were never arrogant enough to believe we’d become the next Huffington Post, but why invite trouble? For my part, it seemed expeditious to hide behind a persona different from my own while I worked to locate my voice.

Becky Boop, like the cartoon Betty she evokes, was initially quite the boozy, citified, fun-loving girl. Most of my initial posts, which tend to embarrass me upon reflection, were silly. I think I imagined myself a 21st Century Carrie Bradshaw: traveling, happy hours, a free wheeling spirit – my best, most interesting self. And there is definitely the bar trivia, Meet the Press side to me. But that’s not really the whole picture, you know?

As I have tried to maintain a strict thrice-weekly posting schedule the last two years, I have learned goo gobs about myself, first and foremost, that I am introspective and personal. I am not sure if my small audience always agrees, but I came to believe I am at my best artistically when I am confessional. As time has passed and I have grown more brave with my words, the list of taboo experiences that I will not publicly examine grows shorter. I have written about the mental illness that runs in my family, the infidelity that once haunted my marriage, my own social awkwardness, death, pain and unemployment (which often feels like a combination of the two former words). With the unyielding and patient support of my closest friends and family, I have been encouraged to expose myself. I now take great pride in this rawness, even as Bambi continues to find her footing.

I write what I mean to say most of the time, and even when the floodgates of criticism open, I can’t backpedal. In that moment, as I typed those words, it’s how I felt, or what I believed, or the facts I understood. As I try to grow more comfortable with me: the writer, the woman, the human, it has begun to gnaw at me that I am still hiding, in a very real sense, behind a character.

So it’s time to let go, to really put myself out there. I am Becky Sarwate. A work in progress. A mess oftentimes certainly, but I am willing to spill the blood and work up the sweat. No more closets.

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