Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Who Was That Masked (Wo)Man?

posted by Aunty Cindy

I’ve never listened to a lot of pop music, but back in the day when I was newly divorced, I went on a blind date to a Billy Joel concert. While I never saw Mr. Blind Date again, I did develop an appreciation for the lyrics in Billy Joel songs. One of my favorites was “The Stranger,” a song about the masks everybody wears and the faces that we show only ourselves. I think the reason this song resonated so strongly with me is because I’ve always felt myself “a stranger,” someone set apart from everyone else.

As a young child, I realized not everybody had this “other life” going on inside their heads the way I did. My parents, siblings and the few friends I confided in thought me extremely odd. I wore my weirdness as a badge of honor through my rebellious teens and into my twenties. Whenever I had to “fit in” or be “normal” I rummaged in my trunk and donned the appropriate mask – devoted spouse, doting mother, dependable employee. But I was always secure in the knowledge that it was never the “real” me.

The “real” me was the stranger, aloof, untouchable, and she obviously scared people who got a glimpse of her. My (then) husband, my mother, my best friend… Sometimes she even scared ME! I had to keep her well hidden, but I always knew she was there, lurking behind those other masks -- familiar masks that made her acceptable, able to blend in. But I cherished my stranger, because Billy was right, she wasn’t always evil and she wasn’t always wrong.

Best of all, when I was writing, I could pull all those other masks out of my psychological trunk and try them on my characters! All those lovely masks the stranger wore became pieces within all my heroes, and all my villains too. Then, as I met more and more writers both in person and online, I discovered we all did the same thing. They had that “other life” going on too! But the revelation was double-edged. I felt relief but with wariness.

While we often traded secrets, the other life and the stranger are dangerous and require protection. What is all right to reveal in fictional characters is still not openly acknowledged in one’s self. Most all of us came to writing from someplace or someone else. We learned our lessons well. Show what we must. Show what we dare. We writers must wear masks too. And I’ve been my stranger for far too long.

How well can you ever really know someone else? How well do you think they know you? To paraphrase Billy: did you ever let another see the stranger in yourself?


flchen1 said...

Those are some gorgeous masks, AC!

flchen1 said...

Wow, what a lovely post, AC--I think we can only know people as much as we are really paying attention to them, and ultimately as well as they allow us to know them. And I think that while it's good that usually the people we love the most are the people that we know best and that we allow to know us best, sometimes that also means that we can be careless about what we reveal, too--I know my family would probably appreciate a bit more of a mask on those days I let the shrieking-crazed-mom out of the bag ;)

Christine Wells said...

Oh, darn, Fedora! I thought I might be the first today.

AC that was a very interesting, thought-provoking post. People never seem to see me as I see myself and I've come to the conclusion that I must wear a mask in public because they all seem to agree about who I am. I'm the lone voice of dissent!

Writing characters is a bit like acting, I think. You have to work out what motivates them and what their strengths and weaknesses are, how they'd react in a certain situation. You have to be them for a while. I'm always a bit disconcerted when I look back at a book I wrote and it reveals something about my 'stranger' as you call it that I never meant to reveal. Scary and fascinating, don't you think?

One of the themes of the story I'm writing now is can you love someone if you don't know them? And if you think you know someone and you're in love with them for years, then they suddenly reveal their true, horrible self, did you really experience love...or not? What do you think?

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Congrats again on the GR, Fedora!

No that white mask in the post was not his, though it might have been. :-) That is a Venetian Carnevale mask called The Plague Doctor and it's origins date back to the middle ages. The very colorful demon with his tongue stuck out is a wooden Thai mask. I purchased a similar one when I visited Bangkok.

My stranger has done the shrieking-crazed-mom too, back in the day when my kiddo was the age of yours. Don't worry, she won't be with you forever.


Louisa Cornell said...

What a great post, AC! Very interesting indeed. If you are fortunate there is at least one person in your life who knows you ALMOST as well as you know yourself. Try being married to a shrink, and a damned good one at that! I think the reason I loved my DH so much was because he was VERY different from me - far more serious, quiet, sedate, etc and yet he loved the hedonistic musician I was and the writer I was in secret. He knew everything there was to know about me and loved me anyway.

Masks are okay I guess as long as they don't reshape who you really are or cripple you from becoming who you are supposed to be. I spent a long time presenting one face to the world and another to my friends and yet another to my family. Now I am just myself because frankly all of those others required too much work and memory on my part and I am getting lazy and forgetful in my middle years. Being me is more fun. I do have to wear a mask to work at Wal-Mart, but I wear it lightly and remove it as soon as I clock out.

I like the premise of your story, Christine. It sounds like a real winner.

In my current WIP The Raven's Heart (aka The Hedgehog) at one point the hero observes "Being in love with the idea of a person, does not make that love any less real, or the loss of that love any less painful."

flchen1 said...

I'm so sorry, Christine--well, at least a tiny bit ;) And I'm totally intrigued by your current story premise--I'm not sure how I'd answer that... hmm... I think that I would say yes, you did truly experience love, but I don't know whether that love could survive the revelations and that love might not extend to the person now in the same way. Not sure I'm thinking clearly right now ;)

Louisa Cornell said...

Nice nab of the GR, Fedora. Must be true love!

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

I think you are spot on about creating characters and acting. You do need to become them for awhile. I know when my hero or heroine is having a particularly bad time in the chapter I'm working on (this happens a lot in romantic suspense, esp. toward the end) then my mood reflects their trials and tribulations.

Fascinating theme in your story! In The Wild Sight I have my heroine asking a similar question. She questions whether you can truly love another when your heart is morally corrupt. She wants to believe you can, but I don't think she totally convinces herself. I guess you can conclude my answer from that, can't you? ;-)


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

I'd say it takes a very special person to be happily married to a shrink! Kudos to you, M'dear! I think your hero's observation pretty much sums up my first marriage...

One of the things that led to this post was an email I received a few days ago from a woman who used to work for me. Someone had passed along my website addy and she emailed because she was absolutely flabbergasted that I had written a romance novel. I had been her rather hard-nosed and exacting boss for a little over two years, and she never really saw me without that mask.

Donna MacMeans said...

WTG fichen1! Now don't go plucking any feathers for your own mask *g*

AC - your post reminded me of Michael Hauge's workshop where he talks about how people present themselves to society one way (their identity), but to be truly happy they have to move toward their essence (or stranger in ACspeak). I think there's a lot of truth in that.

Jane said...

Congrats on the GR, Fedora.

Hi Aunty Cindy,
Maybe I'm a cynic, but I think most of us hide behind a facade. It's a defense mechanism. You don't want to put too much of yourself out there only to have someone hurt or betray you.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

I think that's why I always treasured my "stranger" even though she was sometimes scary and definitely flawed. She is unique! I always lived in fear of being ordinary. :-P


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hey Jane!

If you continue to show me those cynical flashes behind your "sweet reader mask," I'm going to have to adopt you! My nickname wasn't Cynical Cindy for no reason...


Anna Campbell said...

Cindy, what a fascinating post. I had the album The Stranger and used to play it to death. That song had a really haunting whistle introduction. Quite creepy and rather Bach-like. I think we all play many parts in life but I also think probably each of those parts includes elements of the 'true' you.

Fedora, great catch on the chook!

Helen said...

Well done flchen

Loved the post Aunty Cindy and how true I think we all wear masks depending on who we are with and where we are there are times when we have to be strong other times supportive and then of course times to let loose and have fun they are the times I like about myself best.
Obviously masks work really well with authors because I have read some great books and there will be plenty more for me to read.
I too love those masks really beautiful.
Have Fun

Tiffany Kenzie said...

Love the death mask.

Very interesting post. Funny you say you are a part of a stranger to your family, I'm more the black sheep to my mothers family--who do not understand anything 'art' related.

It's true, you only know someone as much as you pay attention as fedora said.

For me--my friends understand me. I always joke that I'm an acquired taste, but there are some friends, and loved ones (my hubby, my dad, and a few friends) that just get me on all levels of the psyche.

I don't know who originally said this, maybe Eloisa James--but your characters always take a little piece of you, when you build them. It makes them real, or organic if you will.

As long as you know who the real you is, I see no problems in wearing all those masks!

The book I'm working on, my heroine, Jinan, hides behind the new personal she's had to build for herself in a very new and different life setting. The one beautiful thing about her situation is that she finds herself--the woman who hid behind the strictures of society--by taking on this new persona. I guess you just need to know when you are wearing a mask, and when it's really you, eh?

Great post!

Caren Crane said...

Fedora, congrats on the GR - again. Hope the guest room is well-stocked. *g*

Aunty Cindy, I love this post. I think most of us are uncomfortable talking about the hidden parts of us. Like you, I always lived in terror of being ordinary. I know many people who seem "ordinary". They scare me. I know inside themselves they can't possibly be as banal as they act. If they are, I pity them!

I think for many creative types (like us), it can be hard to sense where the line is before you cross it. You may say or do something that other people find odd without realizing it - until right after it happens. The strange/appalled/scared looks give it away.

It's especially hard being a "stranger" when you are a woman in the Southern US. Apparently, most Southern women are taught to wear masks and keep them firmly in place. But I grew up in a family where it was perfectly acceptable to be your odd self. We all were! I thought all families were as weird and cool as mine. I found out as a kid - and have been finding out ever since - that people WANT you to wear a mask.

My husband came from a strictly mask-wearing family. He finds my family a bit hard to take at times. He loves me despite the shrieking-crazy-mom parts and other dark parts, but finds us a challenge en masse (at, say, Thanksgiving dinner *g*).

There is a reason lots of geniuses are a little crazy. I think having to hide your true self can push anyone over the edge faster and harder. *g*

Buffie said...

AC -- great blog!!! I have to say that I love Billy Joel. A few years ago, the dh surprised me for my birthday with a weekend trip to NYC to see Movin' Out, the Broadway show based on Billy Joel songs. Fabulous show!

As far as masks, we all have them. I think it is very hard for any person to totally lower that mask and be vulnerable. My dh is about the only person who has seen me without a mask, and sometimes that is hard.

Christine Wells said...

AC, Louisa and Fedora, thanks for your take--I'm really mulling this over now that I'm nearing the end of this MIP! I think there's infatuation, and then there's loving someone who doesn't show you their true self. The first obviously isn't love--perhaps because you don't even make an effort to get to know the person. It's an emotion that centres on you rather than the person you're in love with. The second, well, I think that can be love. So I think I agree with your hero, Louisa.

Joan said...

There's a Stranger in My House.

This Ronnie Milsap song popped into my head as I read your post, AC. You can hear it at the link below. (Try to overlook the hokey 80's video)

Now granted, this particular song speaks to a relationship but in thinking about your post and the different sides to our personas aka strangers it seemed appropo.

I have lots of friends. Lucky me! But only a handful really see all the different, unique sides to me. One friend has startled me with her spot on observations of who I am and what makes me tick. And yes, I was incredulous and occasionally resistant to her observations but in the end it has helped me understand and in some case appreciate MORE what makes up Joanie T.

I think any "masks" that I put out there come from a visceral level or rather that others don't take the time to see behind them.

As many of you know, by day I work as a charge nurse. Yes, I've got some masks I put on for that role....organizational, deliberative, instructional, raving, responsible manager.

But last week, several of us were coming from a meeting in the main hospital. One of the other nurses had brought her 7 year old stepdaughter. This little girl was SO cute and precocious and loving. Well, we hit it off. She grabbed my hand and we walked chatting and being silly.

One of the other ANM's kept making snarky remarks about "my new friend". For SOME reason (and I believe it is because of her own stranger...who is scary)she couldn't see that yeah, I have a soft spot for children.

I used one of my favorite expressions to reply to her comments. "You don't know about my life!"

Gillian Layne said...

Wow, Loucinda. Amazing post. I buried myself in Debbie Macomber's Knit Together last night and I can see many similarities in theme.

Sometimes I think people wear masks without meaning to. I think they know the persona they've adopted isn't really true to themselves, but they're either too busy or too scared to figure out what that best-fit mask would be.

Louisa Cornell said...

Yes, Christine LOL THE HEDGEHOG was the working title of The Raven's Heart and when I entered it in the Daphne I used that title because I was not concerned about it finaling. DOH! I changed it after that. The hero's daughter has a pet hedgehog, but it also describes the hero and heroine - both prickly on the outside and sweet and soft on the inside, so to speak.

The hero makes the remark about his late wife who was this great ethereal beauty who he realizes he never really knew at all, but his pain at her loss is real, nonetheless.

p226 said...

Hell, just answering this question is a defacto removal of the "mask." Just acknowledging that one wears a mask is a revelation unto itself. Or at least it seems that way. I like Rush's spin on a certain writer...

"All the world's indeed a stage, we are all merely players, performers and portrayers, each another's audience, outside the guilded cage."

So when do we stop playing the part? When do we take off the mask? How does one answer that question without exposing exactly that which is hidden?

Perhaps when one picks up the pen and begins to write. The irony here is actually a bit thick. In the very act of creating fiction. In an attempt to craft a new mask, a new role, on another stage, cracks and shafts of light must shine through to the real face. You cannot put on the new mask without first removing the old.

Buffie said...

Joan -- I love Ronnie Milsap. I'll be singing that song all day long! He was the very first concert my parents ever took me to (I think I was 8 or 9), and I can still see him standing on his piano. He was some showman!

Claudia Dain said...

Philosophy to start the day! Or is it psychoanalysis?

Either way, it's a strange coincidence as I had a long talk with an old friend on the phone yesterday about masks and why people wear them. He thinks it's to hide the true self. I think it's because the mask we wear is how we want to be seen, how we want to truly be. *shrug* Who knows?

But what a thought-provoking post!

Joan said...

I think masks can also be used to protect oneself.

p226 said...

I think it's because the mask we wear is how we want to be seen

And why would one wear the mask they want to be seen? Out of fear that the real face underneath it is inadequate in some way.

terrio said...

This is really deep for a Tuesday morning. LOL! Fantastic topic, AC!

And that line of Louisa's describes my first (and only) marriage as well. I'd never thought of it that way but it's true.

I'm usually surprised when someone makes an observation about me and it's spot on. It doesn't happen often. I have an ex-bf that knows me better than I do, I think.

When I started my WIP, I wanted to make my heroine as different from me as possible. And in most ways she is. But I'm finding the parts of me that are coming through are the parts I don't want to think too long or hard about. Scary.

Congrats on the GR, Flchen1. Let us know if you see the real rooster lurking beneath the feathered mask.

Trish Milburn said...

Interesting topic, Cindy. I think we all have these "other people" inside of us, ones who could have the dominant "us" if we'd made different choices, grown up in different circumstances, etc. Okay, that sounds a little crazy, but I'm hoping you all know what I mean. For instance, there's an adventurous girl inside of me who likes to take impulsive trips. My real self is all for hoping in the car and hitting the road, but there's part of me that longs to be the type of person who not only does that but just drops everything and jets off to three months in Australia or somewhere. My real self wouldn't do that, but my imaginary self can in the form of characters I write. Okay, you all are going to think I'm smoking crack after reading this. :)

Esri Rose said...

Congrats on the GR, Fedora!!

Louisa's character said: "Being in love with the idea of a person, does not make that love any less real, or the loss of that love any less painful."
--Boy, that's so true.

Anna: That whistling introduction is Bachlike, isn't it?! Good call!

Terrio: I finally created a heroine who is radically different from me. I consider that a real achievement. It was hard, but ultimately a lot of fun.

I used to wear a moody loner mask in high school (Or maybe I was a moody loner. Who knows?), but I haven't worn any mask in a long time, unless you count my hard-won moments of career diplomacy. I think that's more of a learned skill than a mask. I sometimes don't let all of Esri out to play, because I know it would make the other person uncomfortable. That's more manners than mask. They're not seeing a different me, just less than the full me, because otherwise it would be too much information, all the time.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Cindy! Great post. And congrats to Flchen....nice grab on the GR this morning!

It was amazing to me the first time I confessed to another writer that my characters sit down and chat with me. (I was sure it was my alternate personality shining through.) And she said, "Oh honey, mine move in and won't leave until the story has THE END written." What a relief!!

MsHellion said...

Wonderful blog! I think that sums it up we use our other masks to write different characters or different aspects of the same character.

No, I don't think many people know my inner Stranger. I don't let her out much. She comes out when I'm feeling particularly "William Wallace" like though: FREEDOM with a sword/martyr. I don't think that aspect is very well liked, so I tend to keep her hidden, at least in Public-Public view. It's easier to bring her out in the net world.

Do you find that true? I think sometimes I am my truest self on the web and it makes it easier to be myself in public because I find my true self tends to be accepted in the web-world, so it's okay to be myself in the real-world too.

But even on the web, I don't share everything. *LOL*

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hellion said: It's easier to bring her out in the net world. Do you find that true? I think sometimes I am my truest self on the web and it makes it easier to be myself in public because I find my true self tends to be accepted in the web-world, so it's okay to be myself in the real-world too. But even on the web, I don't share everything.

Yes, Hellion! I ABSOLUTELY AGREE! I think the perceived anonymity of the Web makes it easier. But then, it's not truly anonymous is it? Better to hold a little back. I don't trust other people with all of my stranger, and I certainly don't trust her with them! ;-)

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Fo, Billy's classical training on piano does show through, doesn't it? A bit of his stranger peeking out?

Helen, you are spot on about the occasion sometimes dictating which mask we must wear. This was very true of me recently when I attended my ex-father-in-laws funeral.

The pretty painted mask near the bottom is a Mardi Gras mask. You can buy similar ones (in all sizes) all over the French Quarter of New Orleans. That is, you used to. Not sure now, since I haven't been back post-Katrina. :-(

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

I like to say about my family (and they don't disagree), "I'm a mutant and I'm proud!"

Like the Southern families Caren mentioned, in mine you have a role and you are expected to PLAY IT! NO DEVIATIONS! :-P

Tiffany said: As long as you know who the real you is, I see no problems in wearing all those masks!

Me neither! And I definitely know (after all these years) who the "real" me is.

P.S. Love the description of your heroine.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

You were so lucky to grow up in an eccentric family instead of the strict, mask-wearing kind like your poor DH! This does seem to be more prevalent in the South (just my own observations) and much more stringent for women than men.

Yes, I've been the recipient of those strange/appalled/scared looks quite a few times. My stranger usually laughs at them later, in private.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Suz, it is a relief to discover that other writers have the same idiosyncrasies going on, isn't it?

I debated with myself whether or not I should actually do this post. Ya know, just in case nobody "got it"...

But my stranger won out. :-)Plus, it was fun collecting those masks.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Joan said: I used one of my favorite expressions to reply to her comments. "You don't know about my life!"

HUZZAH!!! Good on you, Joanie! Sorry my old dino of a puter doesn't play videos, but I'll google the lyrics.

My close friends definitely know me better than most. But even they have bits and pieces.

Okay, off to run errands but I'll be back later. Thanx a bunch everyone. Please keep the comments coming!

jo robertson said...

Excellent post, Cindy. Very reflective.

I think some people are much better at hiding their inner selves than others and some are utterly open and guileless. My husband is almost without deception. He's very easy to read, but after all our years together, there are still times when he doesn't "get me."

But when it comes down to it, we can't really know another person, what's in their mind and heart.

catslady said...

Fantastic post. I don't think anyone ever really knows someone else and unfortunately we don't know ourselves either! I don't know if anyone has read The New Earth by Eckhart Tolle but it basically deals with our ego and what he calls our pain body - what we carry with us from the past. I reccommend it highly. It helps explain all the "masks".

Anonymous said...

Such an interesting post for me to fly back home with (I've been at a conference for the past four days and am now gratefully headed HOME!). I don't have a problem with masks, though I think I prefer costumes -- masks, of course, suggest you're hiding something. What could be a better way to hide your true self than to disguise the features that reveal so many of our emotions?

I love costumes -- I think costumes allow you to enhance the various people inside of you. My costume for my day job (where I am serious power woman) is a suit, or a pair of hose and a skirt. My costume for my life as a mom (where I get to be laid back and focus on my kids) is a sweatshirt and jeans. My costume for a night out with the girls is a swingy skirt or dress that makes me feel flirty and pretty.

Anyway, I'm sure I've got some serious masks, too. But mostly I just enjoy these different sides of me. I think it would be horribly boring if we only got to be one person all our lives! :-)

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Great topic AC, I think we all have masks that we use when dealing with various people in our lives. I havea work mask, a mommy mask, I used to have a daughter mask. A funny story related to this topic was this:
I had been dating my BF for almost two years, his son came to visit him with his girlfriend that my bf had never met. As they were talking and doing the well where do you work? etc. it came up that she works the same place I do, on the AP side, I work AR. My bf said well do you know Dianna? She said oh yeah, we work together almost on a daily basis at times, she is a strong woman! Now my bf found this to be quite hilarious and questioned the poor girl again, are you sure we are talking about the same woman? Jess, being a very sweet girl caught on that something wasn't jiving and she said yes, it is the same woman, I don't mean she is strong in a bad way, I mean she doesn't let anyone by with anything that isn't right. My poor bf is still telling the tale to all of our mutual friends, half agree with Jess and half agree with the bf. So there you go, at least two masks that I apparently wear without even knowing it!
Has anyone ever seen the real me?? Not in a great many years, at least not to the best of my knowledge they haven't. She is a weird lady to be sure...LOL

Congrats on the GR fichen1. If he didn't behave well today I hope you put the crazed mom mask on.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Great story, Dianna!

Goes to show that those who know you in one situation and wearing one mask (like my former employee or your co-worker) have a completely different perception of you than those who have seen you in a different venue and mask (those here in the Lair, or your bf).

Welcome back Kirsten! Hope the conference was rewarding.

I think costume is also a part of our masks/identities. Where would Superman be without his cape or Clark Kent without his glasses? Back in the day (a VERY long time ago), when I was in school, we had school clothes and play clothes and never the twain did meet! Just like when I first started working, nobody wore jeans to work. That was a very tough habit for me to break. I just didn't feel right working in "play" clothes.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Great to see you TICD! We love it when you stop by the Lair.

TICD said: Either way, it's a strange coincidence as I had a long talk with an old friend on the phone yesterday about masks and why people wear them.

Ever notice how sometimes ideas and/or concepts seem to float on the ether? YOU were thinking and talking about masks too! Oh, and I also realized that I went to see "Phantom of the Opera" two weeks ago. Talk about masks, hidden identities, and "strangers!" That no doubt started me thinking along the same lines!

And Gillian, you said Debbie Macomber's book had a similar theme? Cue the Twilight Zone music!

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

And why would one wear the mask they want to be seen? Out of fear that the real face underneath it is inadequate in some way.
Exactly right! So many people are insecure in who they are. So, with each person or group of people they encounter they put on a mask to cover those insecurities. Some things you cannot disguise, your physical looks are there and only very little can disguise them, the inside is a whole different ball game. Depending on how much these other people WANT to know you they may never have an inkling of who or what you really are.

Pat Cochran said...

Has any one advanced this theory on the wearing of masks? I think that
the reason person #1 gets a read
on you that is different from that
of person #2 is because we wear a
different mask for each person. I
meet Angela, we are each wearing a
mask. We part, each meeting another mask-wearing person. We react to the mask of each person
we meet. I know this sounds weird, I'm probably going to be placed in the smoke-filled room with Trish!

Pat Cochran

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

p226, I was hoping you'd weigh in! And yes, it grows into quite a circular argument, doesn't it? Be it Rush or the Bard making the observation, we writers are a strange and circumspect lot.

E.L. Doctorow is reputed to have said, "Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia." I originally planned to use that quote in the post, but for the sake of brevity, chose to stick with Billy.

What do you think? Is that a fair assessment of that "other life" going on in our heads, and those characters who move in and talk to us until we finish writing their stories?

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

LOL Pat!

No, neither you nor Trish have to be in a smoke filled (or even liquor filled) room. However, I think you can see where some people who don't want to recognize or deal with their "stranger" behind all those masks might end up there.

Caren Crane said...

Trish and Pat, I don't think either of you are smoking crack. *g*

I think, though, that some people are naturally better able to see through other peoples' masks than the general population. Some people don't want to be bothered to "see" people. Some simply can't. For some, it is quite easy.

I am one of those people who can almost always read others' intentions. My own are often misunderstood and I think that's because I almost never have an "agenda". So those who are attuned to looking for hidden "agendas" can't find one and, therefore, belive I'm really, really good at hiding them. Uh, no. I just don't have one. But I can read THEIRS at 100 paces. I almost feel it isn't fair, but you use what you've got. *g*

I was told today by my BFF that another good friend said, "If you want an honest opinion, ask Caren." That's me in a WAY too honest nutshell.

Dina said...

Love the masks.

I think there's always something about someone that you may never know.

Caren Crane said...

Not sure I agree with Doctorow on that one, AC. Schizophrenia is generally something one can't control, whereas writing requires incredible control. We let out what we want others to see and generally don't simply unleash the creative hounds and wait to see what happens. Though that could be interesting, it sounds dangerous! =:-0

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

I don't know how many of you have read Victoria Alexander but at the end of her books she has a tea party with her heroines. I love it, you can honestly believe those ladies are right there in her "parlor" arguing as they sip their tea.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Catslady, thanx for the book recommendation. That groan you hear is my TBR pile about to collapse under its own weight! :-P

Hey JoMama! YOU might be able to easily read Dr. Big after all these years, but I've seen him in a couple of different masks that were pretty convincing. Same with my DH. He's not nearly so simple and straightforward as a lot of people believe... He has more than a bit of "the mad artist" in him too. ;-)

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...


I agree that writing does require incredible control. But SOME writers really do unleash the mad creative hounds, in the first draft stage. WHOA, baby!

Dina, has anyone in the Lair glimpsed what lies behind those butterfly wings?!?! :-)

And Dianna, I haven't read Victoria Alexander but the character tea party sounds delightful!

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

BIG THANX to everybody who took the time to comment on today's post!

It wasn't the usual light-hearted fare we often have here on the Bandit blog and I wasn't sure it would go over, but sometimes you need to vary the diet. :-P So again, BIG BIG thanx for your thoughtful comments and I really appreciate your support.


p226 said...

What do you think? Is that a fair assessment of that "other life" going on in our heads, and those characters who move in and talk to us until we finish writing their stories?

Well. I suppose there's some merit to the schitzo angle. Though, I suspect it's a little more complex. Assume for the sake of argument, as some have posted, that the masks are what we want to be. Each character is both a shade of what we are, and what we wish to be. And at times, what we might fear we may be. (I suspect that's why writing villains is a challenge for a lot of people). In the very art of crafting the masks, we MUST insert a bit of ourselves. The good, the bad, the ugly, and the beautiful.

So in the very act of crafting so many masks, we chisel chinks, cuts, dents and gouges into our own mask. Because we must use some part of our true selves to craft one.

limecello said...

Great post. I really liked this post - and think... a lot of people are like that. Or, maybe I am. Some of my best friends, or friends I've known literally all my life still know they don't "know" me. I don't know how or why it happens. [But then, there are always a few people where you connect, and you know.]
For some people, what you see is what you get. Others, are more reserved, but quite warm once you get to know them. :) People are complex - and sometimes that's a great thing.

Keira Soleore said...

Fedora, he's yours yet again!!

What an amazing, powerful blog, AC. WOW.

It's extremely rare when one person knows "everything" about the other person and still loves and respects and honors him.

I'm with Fedora. On those days when I don't exhibit my usual self-control, both they and I regret it.

Carol said...

Hi, Really interesting!
What about if you meet someone and you like the person, but you find you cannot seem to see the real person behind their 'mask', they don't let you be closer as a friend and you never really see the essence of the person, the one they really are!
That's kind of sad!
Cheers Carol

Carol said...

Congrats Fedora, hope you have had a great visit with the GR..
Cheers Carol

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Limecello, Keira and Carol,
Thanks for commenting, I really appreciate the support for a post that was somewhat out of the ordinary for the Lair.

And P226 thanx again for some thought provoking commentary. I agree that some masks are who we want to be, or fear we may be, but some are not voluntary. They are forced on us by society, other people, etc. Still others are quite deliberately worn for any number of reasons.

I do agree that we insert ourselves into our characters. I think that is an unavoidable part of the process, but I don't necessarily think it takes anything away from ourselves. It can, but doesn't have to...

Thanx again all! I've really enjoyed the comments.