My guest today is Joseph Lance Tonlet, author of Grif’s Toy and the Amazon-banned Brothers LaFon, two fantastic books that you should really check out if you haven’t already. :) When he sent me this blog post, it made me damn happy that I’d get to share it with all of you.
So… Without further ado… Joseph.
Today is my 49th birthday, but this guest post isn’t really about my birthday, or even birthdays in general.
When I began this journey of writing, well over a year ago, I also created a social media pen name profile. You know, for places like Facebook, Twitter, etc. It was then, very early on, that I had to decide who Joseph Lance Tonlet would be. Meaning, how much of myself—the real Joe—would be incorporated into the online/fictional JLT.
Society demands we keep certain things to ourselves; i.e. there are topics we just don’t share or talk about with anyone lest we be labeled a freak, or a pervert, or worse. In addition, there’s the “author branding/appeal” aspect to consider. Indeed, if the goal as a writer is to sell books, then how one presents one’s self needs to be considered.
Well-meaning “real life” friends freely gave advice on what parts and pieces I should share, and which I should keep to myself. Their reasoning ran the gamut from maintaining a certain level of mystique, to being cognizant of how people’s perceptions of me (JLT) could potentially affect book sales.
The more I listened, the more convoluted and—to be honest—contrived it all sounded. Feeling somewhat disheartened by the whole marketing aspect, I stepped back and asked myself, 1) How inauthentic do you want to be? and 2) What’s your goal here? The answers: 1) Like most folks, I want to be as authentic as possible, and 2) My goal is simply to write. Once I did that, asked myself those two basic questions, the decision was easy: I’d be me. The real me. Without question, far more genuine than I dare to be with most “real life” friends and family.
Much to my surprise, I’ve been embraced in a way I could never have dreamed of. Indeed, the “virtual friendships” I’ve been fortunate enough to forge have been nothing short of fucking brilliant. And the reason for that? I believe it’s because I’m being real—warts, twisted kinks, and all.
Back to the birthday bit. As I mentioned, today is the big four-nine. (A number, by the way, I’m choosing not to dwell on, LOL!) Over the last week, the mailboxes, both real and virtual, have delivered birthday greetings. Receiving cards from family and friends is special, and I’m always very grateful to anyone who has taken time out of their busy day to drop a card in the mail to me. However, this birthday is different. This is Joseph Lance Tonlet’s first birthday…and the reason for this writing.
The Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc, etc, etc messages I’ve receive have seriously bowled me the fuck over. Do JLT’s birthday wishes mean as much or hold the same weight as the ones I received for Joe? You’re damn right they do. Hell, perhaps even more. Why? Because they’re being sent to the “real” me. They’re being sent to person I’ve put out there who is the most authentic version of myself that I’ve ever been allowed to present. There is nothing more meaningful than that, and to borrow Sally Field’s often misquoted quote, “You like me, you really like me!”
So, I guess what this post is really about is expressing my gratitude. My gratitude for your friendship, and my gratitude for embracing the real me in a completely unimaginable way. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you!
Joseph, I’m damn proud to call you my friend. Happy birthday, buddy!
PLUS: Go check out the May Birthday Celebration and Giveaway Joseph is participating in over at Two men are better than one for a chance to win a signed paperback or ebook!