Thursday, December 02, 2004

Nom de plume

I remember quite clearly the decisions that brought me to starting this blog. I remember doodling on a notepad to come up with a name and sifting through some pretty hideous colour combinations to choose a template I liked. I remember wondering if anyone would actually read what I had to say.

I also remember making a very important decision - whether or not to blog anonymously.

There have been times, especially lately, when I've had more than a passing wish that my legal name weren't right there next to my actual mugshot.

There are so many things I'd absolutely love to write about that I can't because they've been told to me in confidence, because there are large companies or known names involved, because I'm privy to something that I just shouldn't be privy to (although it's been buzzing around my head like a trapped blowfly), because I would love to vent a scathing criticism of an acquaintances's behavior but know that many of my friends read this blog and could very easily figure out who I'm referring to. Sometimes I know a regular reader of this blog would instantly recognise themselves in a scenario and be rather upset.

In short, this isn't a diary or a forgiving blank page that will absorb everything I want to say, take away my frustration or let me rant and rave at leisure with no criticism or repercussions.

Today I had lunch with someone who has that freedom and I have to admit it made me a little jealous.

She's Russian, although fluent in English and had recently started a new job here in England. Overwhelmed with impressions, she sat down and wrote a couple of essays about her experiences at work. I know that those experiences aren't particularly positive and don't paint her co-workers or the way things run in this country in the rosiest light. I also know that this is well deserved. We both know that she would be fired if her writing became publicly associated with her name.

She sent the essays in to a widely circulated Russian newspaper and they liked them so much that they published them as columns.

The considerable interest that her writing generated has prompted the newspaper to commission a book from her - one that will be distributed to Russian speakers not only in the Federation, but (more importantly and profitably) to the millions in Europe and America.

Her eyes sparkled as she described some of the things she had written about already and some of the things to come - as well as the general outline of the book. Based on her experiences in this particular profession (no, I don't think I can tell you which profession, sorry), it looks at the instition she works in from the perspective of the clients and the providers of the service. It will be a work of fiction but the characters will be very much grounded in the people she observes daily.

Suddenly, she tells me, going to work is a completely different experience. She is acutely aware of everything around her. Mundane details are now a backdrop that needs to be remembered and described. The frustrations and tantrums are just more fodder for the story. She doesn't particularly care that she's paid a pittance. Work, she says, has become fun.

I started to imagine all the things I'd actually like to write about on here but have censored, and I came to realise how very different this blog would have been had I decided on anonymity from the beginning.

I'm not sorry for my decision - I've met some phenomenal people by freely giving out my identity. It just drives home to me once again how much communication is tailored to the audiences in our lives.


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