I recently self-Googled in an attempt to see if any of my Demand Studios articles had been published. I didn’t find any of them yet, but self-Googling proved to be an enlightening experience, as always. Because I have a unique name, and because I’ve had a fairly public job for the last few years, I get over 5 pages of nothin’ but the real me when I self Google. Most of it is expected — interviews I gave while with my previous employer, blog posts I’ve written, and old college websites. But there’s always a bit of the unexpected, too, like finding out I was quoted in a Canadian blog about Catholic education.
I still remember a world without the Internet. As an adolescent, I wrote fan-fiction before I knew that fan-fiction even had a name. The first time I logged on at the age of 15, I was astounded and delighted to learn I wasn’t the only person in the world who wrote stories about characters I loved. I immediately began dreaming of a way to publish my fan-fiction online, thinking that “being online is almost as good as being published.” And for a 15-year-old in a rural area, it was. I wasn’t concerned so much with seeing my name in print or getting paid for my stories as I was with the ability to share them with readers. The Internet allowed me to do that–albeit under a fake name, as I was very ‘net cautious.
It has me thinking about how writing is a constant process of unraveling layers to get closer to the truth. The first layer, and often the hardest, is putting form to the thoughts twisting in your mind or beating in your heart. After that, there’s further unraveling when you share what you’ve written, and then again when you share it under your real name, and yes, again when you share it with the world by saying it on the Internet or putting it in print. The ‘net is currently buzzing about a man who lost his job through indescriminate Twittering, and while I like to pat myself on the back and believe I’m more savvy than that, sometimes even I–the girl who once wouldn’t even share my first name online–forget that there are some secrets I just have to let go of after speaking up about them just once online. It makes me realize that publishing, online or elsewhere, is a constant challenge to be brave enough to stand behind what you’ve said — at least, if you have an uncommon name.