Thursday, 4 January 2007

Me, Anonymous Author?

Some career choices are like sand-traps; once you get in, there's next to no chance in getting out. This holds true for most of us who don't have the willpower to just drop everything and chase dreams. I've only met one such person in this country so far. For me, that spoke volumes.

The IT industry as a whole had begun sliding into stagnation oblivion when I picked up my scroll. By the time I recognised the signs it was already too late. Seven years later, my outlook on IT dimmed completely. I was considering other options.

Like writing, for instance.

This other career choice looks just as precarious. Anybody can be a writer, but good writers are exceptionally hard to find. Or maybe I'm just not into literature. When I was much younger, I scorned artists, looking down at a profession that's usually associated with unstable incomes, eccentric behaviour and incestuous cliqués, not realising (again, until it was too late) that such a stereotypical Hyde was lurking within my own developing psyche.

By the time I discovered my budding and barb-covered muse, it looks as if all the good stories have already been written. I've tried my hand in writing fiction before, and it's hard. All the great ideas have been taken and written to death. What's left for those waiting in the wings?

I'd be perfectly happy writing - whenever the inspiration's around: sitting at a PC, hammering away at the keyboard, my nostrils teased by the aroma from the half-empty cup of white coffee lying on my other table (there will be no other weird smells, because I endeavour to keep my den relatively clean). Being misanthropic, I'll probably need an agent to handle the entangling social and financial issues regarding publishing and marketing.

What? I may have to attend public events like book-signings, launches and writers' circles?

Darn, I knew there was a catch.

Artists are bad enough, I should think. What are even worse are celebrity artists. Once they reach a certain amount of fame, something in them dies. That also happens when their mindset changes. I've noticed that my muse visits me when there's this pall over my head (maybe she's been visiting other similar people, the flirt). Whatever friends I have told me I'm too dark, neurotic and cautious. Go out there and live a little, they said. Take a few chances.

Hey, I am toying around with the idea of becoming a writer (and here I am, writing under an alias I won't be using in the future). That's pretty dangerous, don't you think?

I see myself doing nothing but writing for the foreseeable future, even after I leave my current company. But local publishers aren't keen on writers who prize anonymity. Given my opinions about my government and society, I'm not comfortable having my articles tagged with my real name. I'm quite certain that if I toned my act down, the most potent force behind my muse shall dwindle, driving her to seek shelter elsewhere.

But, why not? Does anybody know B. Traven? Me neither. Nor have I read any of his books (sorry, I only read English). But he pulled it off, writing a best-seller under an alias and ultimately, took all clues to his his real identity to the grave.

That has a certain appeal; I don't like being famous, I don't want the kind of attention JK Rowling gets (from housewife to best-selling multimillionaire author - great fairy tale, but not for me), and I certainly don't want to get up on stage in front of thousands of strangers to receive some prize. That sounds paradoxical because writers depend on the reading public for their livelihood.

Then again, that's just like me.


  1. Hey BP,

    Just write for the love of it and don't worry about anonymity issues just yet. Well, that could be a pretty big issue if you're intending to write non-fiction articles though.

    But keep writing, be it here or under a pseudonym in print. I'm behind you 100%

    Besides, you write well. Now just go ahead and write without any thoughts of obstacles holding you back.

  2. Siaoness! Sweetness! Shyness! *blush blush*

    next time I'm in town, remind me to buy you a drink for this unprecedented plug ok ;-)

  3. cynical-idealist: Thank you. Good weekend, and get better soon!

    Alexandra Wong: You talk as if I write for the NY Times 8-) Thanks, and good weekend!


Got something to say? Great! Rant away!