The Jekyll & Hyde Conundrum: Writers And The Public Self

Jekyll & Hyde

We’re all Jekyll and Hyde.

We all have our sunny side, our pat-the-kids-on-the-head-with-an-eternal-smile-of-warmth side, our non-controversial I-breathe-oxygen, how-’bout you? side. That’s our Jekyll, our potential human paragon, our angel.

But we all have our Hyde, too, our goddamnit-won’t-those-kids-shut-the-hell-up side, our you’re-a-fuckwit-because-you-don’t-agree-with-me side, our good-lord-I-want-to-fuck-that-stranger-straight-through-till-sunrise-in-all-the-least-photogenic-ways side.

We’re all the whole Magilla Gorilla, a churning stew of human potential and passion and instinct and mind and soul (whatever the hell that is). And that’s not a bad thing, nor are all the qualities we might shove into the Hyde box actually evilwickedbad in and of themselves. Trying to completely squelch Hyde makes you, at best, neurotic, at worst a slavering hypocrite enslaved by the desires you dare not show. How many anti-gay crusaders have gotten caught with somebody’s dick in their mouth at this point? Probably a small fraction of those who will be.

Still, we all like other folks to think well of us, so we at least refrain from mentioning a lot of the things Hyde says in our heads, and hopefully retain rational control over our impulses and emotions and actions.

Online, we get to fine-tune our public persona a bit. We have the time and distance to choose what we want to present, and how (though it’s all too easy to just hit SEND in an emotional moment and let your Hyde out for all to see; writer Hugh Howey had this happen to him recently and brought down a virtual enraged church picnic of self righteous wrath ‘pon his head). Some splash their personalities all over the internet like monkeys with paintbrushes, or even chimpanzees with machine guns. Some are naturally more guarded than others, and some have concerns beyond the simply personal when it comes to what they’re presenting.

Like writers.

I’ve pondered my own online Jekyll/Hyde mix for a few years now. My natural inclination is toward saying whatever the hell I want to say, as clearly or harshly or profanely as I wish. I generally don’t just accept my more animalistic nature, I celebrate it, and consider that a damned healthy way to be. I have my issues, as anyone who’s read this blog a while knows, but even with my struggles and neuroses, I’m very self-aware and self-forgiving and very quick and happy to laugh at myself. Sharing my weakness makes me strong;  I face it and embrace it and don’t have to waste psychic energy on denial. (Plus, every once in a while I get a message from someone thanking me because something on my blog has helped them in their own personal struggle, and that’s nice to hear.)

So my online persona is a fairly accurate representation of my actual self, or at least my personality. It’s good-natured and compassionate and smart and socially responsible, all nice Jekyll qualities. But it’s also at times profane and combative and impudent and irreverent to a fault, all potentially irksome (though fun) Hyde features.

And that’s how I want it.

On the other hand, my Doc Wilde  novels, while not exclusively for kids, certainly are family fare. And even some adult readers, seeking information about me and my books, may be turned off by some of what I write here. Recently, I wrote a post updating everyone on the current progress in releasing Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom, and I sent a link to that post to all our Kickstarter supporters. One guy messaged me back that maybe I should be more family friendly on my blog if I was going to use it to promote the series; he’d followed the link to the update and also seen my post about “The Mother Fucking Space Marines.” And he had a point: when you go see a Pixar flick, you don’t expect to see an R-rated red band trailer for the next Quentin Tarantino film play before it.

Traditionally, I’ve erred on the side of free self expression. Actually, that very line could apply to most areas of my life over the years (just ask my ex-Army commander and any boss I ever had). I have gotten pressure from some circles to tailor my online presence entirely toward families and kids, as some writers do, and avoid adult content and controversy. But those people were thinking of a writer’s presence online as a marketing tool, whereas I look at it as just daily conversation and, sometimes, debate. I’m doing some marketing, sure, but mostly I’m just talking to folks and I don’t want to filter myself to a juvenile level of discourse.

I always looked at it this way: when a writer who has been writing adult material for years (say, Clive Barker or Ray Garton or Robert B. Parker) writes some material for young readers, no one expects them to start censoring themselves in accord with their new market. Similarly, just because a writer is known for writing material for young readers, that doesn’t mean they should never write more mature fare (I understand J.K. Rowling’s latest book is quite profane and full of adult material; you go, Jo!). So why should I be expected to communicate on a sixth-grade level just because I am (so far) primarily known for writing material suitable for all ages?

Recently, though, my thinking evolved on the matter. I want to express myself freely, yeah…but does that mean I should make it easy for some twelve-year old fan looking for info on Doc Wilde to stumble across my relationship overshares or jokes about the small Asian nation of Bukkake?

So I’ve made some changes. Whereas I’ve been using this blog as my main platform for both personal communication and professional promotion, I’m now shifting the majority of Doc Wilde-oriented material to the Doc Wilde website (which has its own blog, and is where such stuff really belongs). I’ve established a one-way firewall between my Tim Byrd stuff and my Doc Wilde stuff; there’ll no longer be any more direct links to my blog in Doc Wilde venues. I will, however, freely share in the the opposite direction, sharing Doc Wilde links here.

There’ll be as little replication of content as I can manage. And don’t think that the Doc Wilde blog is just a stream of promotional material; I’ll be communicating on a personal level over there as I do here, but I’ll be expressly talking about Doc Wilde and various things that I find interesting which fans of the books might as well. Both blogs can be subscribed to (as can the Doc Wilde newsletter, which will appear only occasionally and will have its own content).

The same goes for Facebook and Twitter: people interested in the books and in me as an author can follow Doc Wilde, people interested in me as a person can follow Tim Byrd. People interested in my Jekyll and my Hyde can follow both.

Under An Outlaw Moon (my personal blog)

Doc Wilde Adventure Headquarters (the Doc Wilde website; here you’ll find the Doc Wilde blog and newsletter, along with other Wilde content)

Doc Wilde on Facebook

@DocWilde on Twitter

@TimByrd on Twitter

One comment on “The Jekyll & Hyde Conundrum: Writers And The Public Self

  1. nydiacarioca says:

    Great post, I couldn’t agree more on how we try to get the balance with our many times apparently opposite natures in one single mind.

    And wise decision, where you don’t have to tame your awesome self, but it’s in good terms with both sides. :)

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