Those of you who have met me in person? Seen my photograph?
That’s not me. It’s a guy named Leonard. He’s a pretty good actor, and a swell chap. He lives in Korea, he pretends to be me. He even spends a few hours a day just sitting in front of a computer, so that this blog is plausible. He checks the blog every day, logs in, types some crap and then deletes it. Just, you know, in case anyone decides to look into the records.
He’s part of an elaborate ruse. Wow, I love the sound of that. Elaborate ruse. Brilliant.
Gord Sellar is not this guy in the photo. Gord Sellar isn’t even my real name. Thirty years ago, when I was just starting out as a mystery writer, back in Scotland, I sold a novel. A single, measly novel. It crashed and burned. So I wrote another, and, whaddaya know, nobody would buy it. It was a lot better, everyone agreed. Had it been New York City I was shopping my work around in, maybe I could have sold it. But this was Glasgow. (I went to Edinburgh too, and even London for a week. It didn’t help.)
So I got a job. A day job. Or maybe it was a night job. That’s the nice thing about pseudonymity: I don’t have to tell you. I could be making this up. But I’m not. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink. The kind of job where it wouldn’t do for me to be writing silly stories about Buddhist monks in space, and jazz musicians kidnapped by aliens, and things like that. (To use a few examples from this Sellar character’s frame of reference, of course)
So, well, I took a pseudonym.
That was when it started. My first taste of anonymity. The first pseudonym in a long series of fake identities. You have no idea, unless, that is, you know. Unless you are one of us. And I doubt you are, or you’d be reading my real blog. Which is… somewhere else, hahaha. And which may not be my real blog, either.
But more about that later. Maybe.
First, what came next. What came next was… well, actually, you’ll never know. But I’ll hint it out for you: I flitted from pseudonum to pseudonym, publishing a short story here, a novel there, an academic treatise way out there somewhere. It was easy, who could check whether I was a real person?
And then, suddenly, this damnable contraption called the internet came and threatened all that. Not at first, of course. No, at first, it was just another warbling sink of anonymity and pseudonymity. Fake names flew fast and thick. People pretending to be Mariah Carey. People pretending to be Elvis Presley and Umberto Eco. People pretending to be someone of the opposite sex. Suddenly, it seemed as if the whole world discovered the secret pleasures that had been know to only as few of us only years before–the pleasure of the masquerade, of being called a name that was not your own.
Then, “Author Websites” appeared. Accursed things, those, with the expectation of a picture on the site. This, the photograph declares, Is Me. See me grin, grateful for your interest in my work? Buy my book! Please?!?!?
The writings were on the wall, or so it seemed. But then I ran into a fellow on the streets of Montreal, where I happened to be for a major meeting you wouldn’t know about (it was secret). I don’t travel often: I don’t often leave my villa, which is located near… well, no, wait, I’d definitely rather keep that to myself. But you’ve heard of it, I’m sure. Anyway, he looked, well, just enough like me when I was his age to make me do a double-take. I grabbed him by the arm and said, “Hey, kid. Wanna make some dough?”
He didn’t understand what I meant at first, and thought I was offering him a job at a nearby pizza shop. (No, I don’t look Italian.) I look like Leonard, but more handsome and dignified.
“What’s your name, kid?” I asked.
“Um, uh… it’s Leonard. You can call me Lenny, though, and…”
“Alright, Leonard. See this bundle of money? If you will listen to what I have to say, I’ll give it to you.”
Poor Leonard had the look of someone who was subsisting on rice and beans, but just the same looked like he’d suffered from a Burger King habit in years recent and long past all at once.
A month later, Leonard was arriving in Korea, a copy of my real diploma in hand, and started teaching Koreans. Elaborate, I know, but I wanted him to have a cover story. A reason to be writing about Korea on occasion, a reason to have those weird views on Western culture.
Those of you who have met Leonard in person, and found him, well, less interesting than on this site: to you, I apologize. He’s competing with what cannot be beaten, of course… me. Poor Leonard plays the role the best he can, but every man has limits, and some have lower limits than others.
I want you to know that Leonard, like me, feels regret. Not shame, not embarrassment, just regret. He wishes he was Gord, I mean, this Gord character Iv’e made up for him.
I wish I were not bored with the character, and you, my dear readers, and all the work involved in maintaining this Sellar persona, even with Leonard’s help. I’ve talked it over with him–with Leonard, I mean–and it seems the poor chap finds his life more entertaining when he is playing Sellar.
Well, wait, now, who am I to judge, since I felt that way for a while, too?
Sso I have given him–I mean Leonard–the legal rights to the persona. Hell, I’ve even given him the Admin password for this blog. Actually, he won the bet. Those gaming posts? They’re his, not mine. I’ve never touched a nine-sided die. (Oops, I guess there’s not such thing as a nine-sided die, says Wikipedia. Shows you what I know.) You guys seemed to think it was the same guy writing, so I’m sure he’ll do fine.
I’m sure he’ll keep on at it. The whole persona: the writing stories, the going on trips, the teaching, the relationships with all those of you he considers friends. He seems to find something perversely fulfilling about playing the role in public, especially in the classroom–where students call him by the pseudonym I paid him to take on as his stage name–and I think he might even do a passable job of maintaining this blog, even.
As for me? Oh, the same. I feel the old familiar itch again. I’m off to another pseudonym. If you see Leonard, er, I mean, “Gord,” please be nice to him. That goes doubly if Leonard also decides to sell the rights and move on to a new pseudonym. Quite apart from myself, and Leonard, this Gord character is interesting, and I get the feeling he could grow to be one of us… well, I won’t divulge the name here, of our ancient pseudonymous alliance.
Anyway, if you do cross paths with him–er, Leonard or any iteration of the Sellar character, alike–I’d appreciate you be kind. Life is hard, we’re all fighting a hard battle. And Leonard’s battle has been hard enough he doesn’t even want to be Leonard anymore, and he wants to be this Gord Sellar character. (Well, but who could blame him? One of my finest creations, really. Better even than that Warhol character. Man, you should have seen Tim–that’s the man you still seem to think was this “Warhol” fellow, before I came up with that persona for him.)
So think about that for a minute. He’s going through enough right now, adjusting to the full creative responsibilities of being Gord Sellar without you getting all up in his face and calling him a sham artist or a faker or a stinking phoney. I’d prefer you don’t bring it up to him, really. Let him get in the groove first, at least.
For those of you more far-flung, have a great life, my–er, Gord’s–dear readers. You’ll be reading me again, but not here, and I doubt you’ll know it. Don’t email me: I’ll email you. Because anyway, if you email me, it’ll go to Leonard, or Gord, or… well, you see. It’s one of those weirdly recursive problems.
And if not, I mean if you don’t track down my new persona, and figure out who it is, then anyway, it’s been swell, folks.
(Which, really, come on, did you think that was a real name at any point? Wake up, folks!)