by Jennie Bentley
Last week, I had occasion to write a bio. No more than 100 words, to present myself – i.e. my alter ego – as well as my new series of DIY Home Renovation mysteries to the world.
For those of you who have never tried, let me tell you that it’s a lot harder than it seems. So much hangs on those few words, and the pressure builds and builds until you go find a bag of cookies and dive in. Maybe it’s just me – my writing style tends to be chatty – but the shorter it is, the more difficult it is for me to do. I mean, why use ten words to express something that can be expressed so much better with twenty?
So it took me most of the day, much longer than it should have, but I did it, eventually. (If you feel so inclined, you can read the final masterpiece here. And if it seems to you to be just a smidgeon longer than 100 words, you’re right. I did my best, but I can’t do miracles.) And when it was finished, I sent it off to our brilliant web maven, whose job it is to put it on the ITW site. And of course, because that’s the way I am (insecure), I sent it with an apologetic email telling her to rewrite it any way she wanted.
She wrote back that she wouldn’t change a word, that it’s witty and charming and expressive... just like me.
We’ll take a break here, to let that sentence sink in, and to give all of you who know me time to recover.
When I had picked myself up from the floor and gotten my hysterical laughter in check, I set her straight. I’m not witty or charming or expressive at all... in person. That’s why I took up writing. It’s easy to be witty, charming, and expressive on paper. Just like it’s easy to be witty, charming and expressive online.
I like to think of it as being virtually charming. We have virtual flowers and virtual cocktail parties and virtual birthday cards, right? Well, I’ve decided I have virtual charm. In person, not so much. I’m a bit of a wallflower, to tell the truth. I do all right when there’s just me and one or maybe two other people, but I avoid parties like the plague, and I’ll go to great lengths to avoid speaking in public. But online... oh, baby! Online, I can be anything I want to be. Charming, check. Witty, no problem. Expressive... hey, I can take as long as I want to choose the right words and put them together in the perfect sequence, and it’s not difficult to be clever under those circumstances.
So what about you? Do you have a virtual personality? One that’s different from the personality you have when you’re dealing with real people in the real world? Do you find it easier to be funny, charming, and clever when it’s just you and the computer? If so, welcome to the club. There are a lot of us out here. And if not, if you’re one of those naturally witty, self confident, charming people, be warned: the real me could seriously learn to dislike you.