This post is inspired by Dr Crazy’s decision (a long time ago) to change blogs to allow her to recreate ‘herself’ and by a seemingly innocuous remark in the New York Review of Books to the effect that bloggers are obsessed by masked superheroes (via Twisty). Dr Crazy changed blogs as she felt that the persona, or voice, that she had created restricted what she wished to say and the way in which she spoke. Similarly, the reviewer at NYRB argued that bloggers loved masked superheroes as they could identify with the dual identity of the masked superhero (or in this case anonymous blogger) and the real life person.
As soon as you make the decision to blog, the issue of voice becomes very apparent. Unlike writing for academia, where you are expected to adopt a neutral, ‘rational’ voice, and writing literature, where the voice you create has limited time span or word count, a blogging persona is meant to convey something of you and often with an expectation that the persona will last the test of time. Yet, ‘you’ are not a static structure, but change in different contexts and over time. My physical voice has many tones, yet there is often an expectation that the blog persona will have a single style.
My avatar, Feminist Avatar, in many ways reflects the questions I have about voice. I couldn’t think of a pseudonym that defined me or accurately represented me. An avatar is an empty shell waiting to be filled up with content. I chose Feminist Avatar as the only thing I definitely knew I wanted to convey was my feminism. Yet, as feminism has multiple meanings, this still allowed flexibility of voice. I wanted to give my name meaning through my writing, rather than through a name.
Yet, the more I write, the less distinctive my voice becomes, and yet at the same time, I feel restricted by previous styles, so that I could not now dramatically change direction. Like a masked superhero, I increasingly buy into the myth of my identity and so become more rigid in behaviour, yet in this case it is a myth that I have created. It’s an interesting journey. It will be fun to see where it goes.