We went out to dinner last night and my daughter spied a guy with an interesting haircut. She whispered to me, “Does that guy have a faux-hawk?” If you don’t know what that is, it’s a fake mohawk—hair combed and gelled to look like a mohawk without the sides actually shaved. My son commented that real mohawks (like the pic to the right) look freaky. I kept my mouth shut about the fact that three of my ex-boyfriends had real mohawks…but what I did say was, “Faux-hawks are for people who want to be freaks but don’t have the guts.”
Oddly, this is representative of something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. People who want to be something they’re not, something they don’t really have the stomach for. More commonly called a “poser.”
I found this definition of “poser” on UrbanDictionary.com:
“…someone who attempts to be part of a clique, but out of a desire to be recognized as a member of that clique rather than sincerity.”
A desire to be recognized.
As a member of a clique.
But without sincerity.
I thought the whole “clique” thing ended with high school. I was wrong. It seems to just go on forever, but on a bigger scale. And it’s quite prolific in the writing community. In some ways it works—the writing world is split into genres and those of like genres hang together. In a few of my old blog posts, I compared the average bookstore with a high school cafeteria. The different fiction genres are like the cafeteria tables. For example, the cheerleader table would be the romance section, the metal-head table would be the horror section, science geeks are the sci-fi books….you get the picture.
One type of person I forgot, though, is the “poser.”
Just like in high school, the writing community has posers. Writers who want to come off as being cutting-edge in a certain genre, when they really haven’t a clue about that type of fiction. Or they want to present themselves a certain way, to try to gain readers. Author A sees Author B who is gaining traction because of their personal style or whatever, so Author A starts imitating Author B. I have personally seen some writers do unscrupulous things to prove they belong in a certain group—hypocritical things, imho.
I hope that I have never come across this way. The reason I came up with the whole high school cafeteria analogy is that I didn’t fit into any one group when I was in high school. I bridged the nerd table and the punk/new-wave/goth—aka freak—table because I was who I was and nothing more. I loved my math and science geek side as much as my freaky, self-expressing artist side. And I was accepted by both groups because I was sincere. I hope you folks can still see that about me.
I have struggled with the self-promotion aspect of writing because of this reason. I don’t like trying to “show” people who I am in a way that is meant to “sell” myself. I want to just be who I am. I blog about all kinds of weirdness that pops into my head—like faux-hawks on guys in restaurants—but I’ve never written a blog post for the sole purpose of gaining attention. (At least that I’m aware. If you remember any that came across that way, let me know!) And if you go on Facebook, you’re going to just see little ole me. I may not post everything on there, because I consider my private life private, and my kids too young to be splattered across the internet. Nor do I post about politics and certain controversies because I think they have been debated to death and don’t like to argue for the sake of arguing. But for the most part I welcome people right into my head. Enter at your own risk, of course—you might not like what you find here.
That brings me to another point. Saying that not everyone liked me in high school would be an understatement. Most people outside of my two cliques thought I was bizarre—and they let me know in no uncertain terms. I got even more extreme after high school, and so did the reactions. I once had a mom drag her kid off the sidewalk to avoid walking past me. I got called names by passing cars. The thing is, it didn’t bother me.
And it still doesn’t bother me. I don’t have half my head buzzed anymore, nor do I still wear black combat boots, thick black eyeliner, and Goth clothes. But apparently there are ghosts of that in me, which people have noticed and commented on. Some seem to think it is cool, while others see those things as flaws. That’s fine. I figure I want people to like me for who I am, and if they don’t, then maybe they’re not people I’m going to like.
Same goes for my writing. I have “fans” already for my short stories and my unpublished novel, but not everyone gets my writing. Some think it’s too weird, too dark, depressing. And that’s fine. I don’t expect the whole world to love my writing, much less all of me. I won’t pretend, either, that I’m beloved for all that I am either. I will not “brand” myself by posing, by creating a fake appearance, by making it look as though I’m accepted into a clique of writers or a particular genre. I open up my heart and mind in my writing. You may like it or not. You can take it or leave it. You can tell me you hate it or keep it to yourself. I’m not just standing here, looking like this, so you won’t be breaking a shell. No faux-hawks here. This is the real me.