Monday, July 16, 2007

Me and Diana Laurence

"Diana Laurence" is my pen name. After three and a half years it still isn't my real name, but it's more than an alias. I could honestly say that Diana Laurence is one of my personae, a character with whom I share many personality traits...almost, but not quite, me.

For one thing, Diana is nicer than I am. A few people out there may scoff at that statement-- those who remember that semi-famous diatribe under her byline back in May 2004 about the state of erotica--but it's true. That's because Diana only deals with readers, fans, romance lovers, staffs of fiction-loving websites, and reviewers (who over the years have universally been kind). These people have been so encouraging and supportive, it's impossible not to be nice in their presence. They have truly brought out the best in my nature by being such generous, enthusiastic, kind people themselves.

Diana is also more humble than me. For while I have in my nearly 51 years become pretty good at being a wife, a mother, and a marketing babe (my day job which provides the bigger bucks and benefits), I still feel I have a lot of improving to do in the field of writing. In fact, that's what's great about being a writer: you can keep getting better and better at it right up to senility! You won't peak in your thirties like athletes. When you lose your good looks no one will know or care. Younger people won't arise who can do your job as good or better. No, you have nowhere to go but up, and if you give it your all, you see that improvement with each new book. You are never as good as you could be, and that keeps you humble. So does every great book you read along the way: those talented authors never fail to challenge and inspire.

Meanwhile, Diana is also the repository of all the lovely, romantic, erotic things I encounter in life. She's the guardian of that stuff, the priestess who maintains the temple. I'm a lot more cynical myself, since I'm the one who goes out in the real world every day to deal with things like the next presidential election, the cable company, and the screw-ups at the pharmacy. I do that so Diana can focus on ideals and higher concepts, on humanity's better nature, on love and the soul. I run the publishing company, she writes the books. That kind of illustrates the division of labor.

Is it hard to manage these alter egos? Only when I make public appearances, which is rare. While it's perfectly natural for me to speak in Diana's voice when I write emails to readers, post blog entries, and write my monthly columns, I feel really weird putting on a name tag that says "Diana Laurence." I want to tell the people who talk to me, "Hey, I know Diana, but I really can't claim to be her--I'd be an imposter." But as long as I'm communicating with others by writing, well then, that IS Diana Laurence they're talking to!

Weird, isn't it?

And so who exactly is speaking to you right now? Well, I can't think about that question too hard or my brain hemispheres may collide or something. Just call me Di and either way I'll answer to that!

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