In my third novel, Backgammon, I modeled a sexually ambiguous character after a close relative. “It” passes gas inappropriately, has a most unbecoming gait and constantly has its integrity challenged. I don’t believe a more unflattering reference is possible, although the character is responsible for some of the more profound, ringing statements in the story.
But this unnamed relative will never find out about this impudence and I will never have to deal with any discomfiting situations. Why? Because I use a pseudonym and no one in my family or circle of friends even knows I’m a writer.
This frees me from a constraint that probably affects the subject matter of other writers who use their true names. I am able to unabashedly write for the truth, as I perceive it, without having to worry about anybody’s feelings. And that’s good because so often I find that my perception is nothing at all similar to the perception of others.
And if someday I do get caught, I could always just claim, “Hey, I’m a writer” or as the Black Eyed Peas would say it, “Imma writer!” In my opinion, this should be a valid defense against almost anything – even in the court of law. Why not? Considered as a species, writers are peculiar people I’m learning; and the world affects these creative people in quite a different way. Why shouldn’t this be recognized by the legal system? It is my firm belief that writers should not be held to the same standards as non-writers.
Clearly, if this is the case then we’d end up with more people claiming to be writers, just to enjoy the benefits. And there would be ridiculous justifications:
Teacher: Johnny, why did you cheat on your vocabulary quiz?
Johhny: Hey, back off. Imma writer –
It could get messy. Eventually, everyone would be writers. We would end up with billions of blogs, many of them even worse than this one.
Judge: Mr. von Fortinbras, you threw a lawn dart at Mucky the Clown – while he was juggling for children. And then you exposed yourself to the parents while shrieking something about franks n’ beans. Your disregard for public well-being is troubling. What do you have to say for yourself?
Me: Hey Judge, Imma writer –
Judge: All charges dropped!
Even worse, everyone would be constantly insulting their relatives in writing while utilizing this new legal and social loophole. Family dinners would get even more uncomfortable than they already are. Forget the heated political discussions or the criticism around under-cooked potatoes and over-seasoned flank steak. Here’s how it would go:
Sister in law: So I see you wrote about me. What, I’m some kind of frog that’s half man, half woman? What the hell is that supposed to mean?
[Wait for it…wait for it…]
OK, everybody: Hey, Imma writer –