Tuesday, February 11, 2014

I live two lives. #amwriting

 I am A.B. Shepherd - and I live two lives.

As readers - and writers - we live many lives through the adventures of our characters, but that is not what I'm talking about today.

I am an introvert. I am reserved. I do not like being the center of attention - in real life.

Here online? Under the guise of my pen name? I'm fairly extroverted, only a little reserved, and I love being the center of attention. Why else would I write a blog for the world to see?

Yes, there are two distinct personalities living in my single body. Hidden behind my computer screen I can do and be anything. In my real life I have limitations.

While my friends and family know of my online persona they don't generally realize how introverted I really am. Because if you know me well and I feel comfortable with you my reserve is lifted and nothing is off limits. They know I need time to myself and I don't leave my house much, but that's just me and they accept that as the norm.

Most other people I interact with in the real world don't know of my online persona. Not my neighbors, not the postie, not the folks at the grocery store. To those people I am just what they see. And I don't let them see much. Kind of like this well known image - you see what you want to see and have to look much harder to see anything else. Is she old? Or young?

You, on the other hand, you are privileged. You get to see me. The me I keep hidden from the real world - even most of my real life friends and family. (I can guarantee you that none of them read this blog - although a few have read my books). The me that lives in my mind, my fantasies, my stories. The me that is adventurous and intrigued, curious and limitless. The me that I share with the you - the honored masses that get to know the true me behind the pseudonym.

I've been asked why I don't do a reading of my books here in town. It could be easily arranged. It could sell books, and isn't that the point of it all?

The answer is, the thought of it terrifies me. There is no way I want to stand up in front of a room full of strangers, exposed, and baring my soul. I can't do it face to face. Just the thought of it makes me squirm and could trigger a panic attack if I hold that thought for long. 

I can bare my soul for you, from behind the bullet-proof glass of my screen, where I don't have to uncomfortably meet your eyes as you look deeply into the inner recesses of my mind and my heart.

I don't even tell people I am a writer. Or I didn't. Until today.

Although I am an introvert I've spent enough years in the real life business world that I learned to play the game a long, long time ago. I can pretend - for brief periods - to be an extrovert, and you'd never know otherwise.

I can represent a company, put on a professional face and make small talk with the best of them. I can make others feel listened to and welcome. I can be friendly to strangers, even in the real world. I'm very good at asking questions - about you. I'm also good at avoiding questions about myself.

But today, for some reason I have yet to understand myself, I answered a question about me. I was getting my hair cut at our local walk-in salon and the stylist asked me what I do. With heart pounding, palms sweating and hands trembling I hesitated for a moment, a bazillion possible avoidance answers running through my mind. 

Then I answered, "I'm a writer."  

The conversation went on with her asking me what I write and me fumbling around uncomfortably before I told her I could give her my business cards. That's right my business cards. I always carry them, but I've never taken them out of my purse. 

When I first published Lifeboat I printed business cards. I thought they would be a great way to promote it. In fact, I have most of the box sitting right here in the drawer of the table next to me. The front of the card has Lifeboat's cover, and the back a brief blurb and my contact info. 

I decided not to print cards for The Beacon, but I recently printed cards for me as an author, not specific to my books (exactly like the picture below), with the back left blank so I can autograph them, or add my mobile (cell phone) number if I choose to. I admit to being slightly disappointed with these. I should have paid extra for a glossy finish. But I digress.

As I've done giveaways of physical copies of my books, I've included a few of Lifeboat's cards in hopes that recipients will pass them on to family or friends with their recommendation. I've yet to give away any of the new author cards.

Until today. Today, I gave a stranger - the lovely woman who cut my hair - Jenelle - my Lifeboat card and my author card. Face to face. 

Today, for a brief moment, I merged my two lives. As soon as I returned home, they again separated, but who knows - one day it just might happen again.

If you'd like a few of my business cards, autographed or not, just email me with your mailing address. Email address is on the card shown above.  

And tell me, how may lives do you live? Do you have a secret life?


  1. I cannot believe how similar we sound! Although I do not use a pen name, I too crumble at the thought of telling people about my writing, which is ridiculous as online I shout it out for the whole world to read!
    I never thought of getting a business card regarding my writing, when my next student loan comes through I might have to invest! I have one for the business that me and my partner have set up, but that's still just a start up.
    It has been lovely reading your blog & getting to know you. Thanks for sharing :)

    1. Bethanie I can't thank you enough for your comment. It is so nice to know we are not alone. Vistaprint often has deals where you can get business cards free just for the price of shipping - keep an eye out for those deals if that is what you'd like to do.

      It is people like you that make writing and blogging worth it. Thanks so much. <3

  2. I understand the dual life thing. I'm an introvert as well, and find myself hiding behind these tendencies in the online world - except on my blog and within certain groups. Two people in one body indeed. :)

    1. Thank you Kayla - Maybe we can form a club - you me and Bethanie! :)

  3. Now, here we go! Your reviews are great, but this is what I like. You. Your thoughts and beliefs. Your feelings. Yep... This is good.

    I have at least two different sides. Like you, more of the "real" me comes out in my personal (if you can call it that) online relationships. In person, I am a prankster to those who know me, and I tend to cause trouble. What? But, when I'm ready to disappear, I retreat back into my cave where I remain until I'm ready to see the world again.

    There are different sides to me, but they are all ME.

    1. A trouble-maker - you? Anita I am shocked! ;)

      Thanks for sharing sweetie. Looks like there are several of us in this boat.

    2. Hahaha! Said innocently > I'm sure I have no idea of what you mean.

  4. What an amazing experience, I totally get how you feel! I, too, live in several worlds, acting out my various personas separately, as it were wrong that I have several and not just the one. But people generally try to put others in neatly labelled boxes and I don't fit one. (Or haven't found the correct label.) It seems like these personas are too fluid and hate to be locked down with nice little labels. It was nice to see you linking your worlds, hope there'll be more lovely experiences like this!

    1. You are right Andrea, labels just don't work do they? Thank you so much for commenting. It is turning out there a many more of us than I ever imagined.

  5. Okay you just described me, like exactly me so I know I have to come see you when possible because we'll get along, except the writer thing of course but still me. And I'm proud of you for sharing yourself like that, you rock and more people should know you and your work.