Friday, November 6, 2009

Three Lives

It occurred to me with certain clarity this week that I live three lives. Three. All from this one body.

They're separate, but pieces of them overlap. Each is carried out by real parts of me.

Life in the Flesh
I am living, breathing, my body holds a spirit. I primp and present my physical self, nourish my person without regularly exercising it, drive an automatic SUV, read aloud, sing aloud, stir breakfast--and sometimes dinner--with my favorite wooden spatula, lose myself to folding laundry, loathe putting it away. I wince when the phone rings, but love to give hugs. My mind wanders while I'm in church, and I mutter ridiculous things to the family dog. I find solace and happiness and frustation and doubt in the act of writing, can't get enough kisses from my daughters, am never sated. This is real life. The one I've lived for thirty-one years, with emotion and experience and depth. Real time. Tangible existence.

Virtual Life
I am a presence. With pictures, sometimes, but most often with words. My thoughts and essence are on display, whether through blog posts or online statuses. I give of myself through a filter, the filter of this internet that is not my physical location, just designed representation. It's me, too, but with time delay. With edits. Smooth, composed. Confident. I banter, I share, I feel, I learn and love. Virtually.

Life through Fiction
I am what my mind creates. My characters are extensions of me, their stories fill me. New experiences, lived vicariously. Papered emotions, felt as if real and raw. People as real to me as the Postmaster, my daughters' teachers, the person driving behind me, my best friend's mother, because they are real, in some other place, even if only by manuscript or in Word document. Entirely made up, but true, honest at the same time. I exist so that they can exist. And because they exist.

These three Jannas, they feel individual, so different, so distinct. But I reconcile one with the others. Aren't I all of them? My three lives. Defining one existence.

What about yours?

31 comments:

Angie Ledbetter said...

Great post Janna! Sorta like the egg - shell, white, yolk -- parts, but also a whole.

Now, if we have to count our roles, there'd be many more than three. :)

Rebecca Nazar said...

I feel pretty intergraded, probably my age.

Stina Rose said...

Great post! I feel the same way. Maybe I'm not alone. :) I don't know what I would do without my virtual self and my characters. I guess they are as much a part of me as the real flesh and blood part that is sitting in my basement, typing in a corner. It's nice to know I'm not alone...and neither are you!

Jessica said...

Oh my gosh!!! YES. This is me. LOL Also, I love knowing that you like folding laundry but not putting it away. I wrote an essay in school about how putting away clothes was my most hated chore. LOL
Have an awesome weekend! :-)

T. Anne said...

OK you just defined me, lol! BTW, I love my fiction life. Things always seem to work out in my best interest in the end ;)

Jody Hedlund said...

Oooh! Love this break down! It's absolutely true! They're all integrated yet somehow seperate!

The Hat Chick said...

Check out this article in the Wall Street Journal today. I thought of you immediately (because you are the only person I know who writes for a living...not because you need help)

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703740004574513463106012106.html

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

I hate phones too!

Definitely... I'm me, the writer, and the missionary--three very different roles!

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

Oh yeah, btw, I left something for you over at my blog! Have a great weekend!

Wendy @ All in a Day's Thought said...

There's a line in the song Bittersweet Symphony, "I'm a hundred different people from one day to the next..." Sometimes I feel that way, not because the level of my authenticity changes, but b/c I am an emotional being who writes and who longs to capture my characters with precision. I also like to be wholly in my responses to even blog comments...so there you have it.
~ Wendy

Melanie Avila said...

This is so true. We all have different "parts" that make us whole.

My favorite cooking utencil is a wooden spatula too. :)

JLC said...

Beautiful post Janna! I loved the way you defined all three versions of you. :)

Mine are all mixed together like confetti and macaroni rolled up in a ball of purple play dough.

Wendy @ All in a Day's Thought said...

Janna, Thanks for the link on FB. I got the lyrics wrong and that bugged me..."I'm a million different people..."

Numbers, I've never been any good at 'em.
~ Wendy

Melanie Avila said...

ROFL @ JLC. :D

Susan R. Mills said...

Yep, that's exactly how I feel. I hope reconcile them all together. Sometimes, I'm successful, sometimes, not so much.

Jill Kemerer said...

You are all three! I love this post!

My characters seem so much braver and bigger than me, though, it's hard to believe they are me too.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Nadine said...

Loved this post!

And I also wince when the phone rings!

Janna Qualman said...

Angie, that's a great comparison! Yes, and many more roles. :)

Becca - Integrated? Hmm, I shall think on that.

Stina - It's such a relief, isn't it?

Jessica - You too, dear!

T. Anne - Funny how that works. ;)

Thanks, Jody! Happy weekend. :)

Hat Chick - It was a great article. The book cited looks awesome, too. Thanks!

Janna Qualman said...

Kristen - It seems the phone thing is common among writers. I wonder why? And thanks!

Wendy - I so get that. Nicely put! You stated it better than I could have, because I didn't know how to express that my authenticity is real in each and all, too. And no worries on the song lyrics. It still sounded right in my head!

Melanie - I shall use it and think of you!

JLC - Thanks! And LOL. Mmm... purple play dough...

Susan - Sometimes it's hard to wrap my mind around and, like you said, execute them all with success.

Thanks, Jill! You too!

Gah! Cursed phones, huh?

Tamika: said...

Lovely post! I never thought about all the facets that we have swirling around in us.

Melissa Marsh said...

I love this post! You've described it all perfectly.

Terri Tiffany said...

You always have such a unique way with describing things:) I wish I could do it like you do!

Heather Sunseri said...

I sometimes wonder if I have multiple personality disorder with how many lives I seem to live. I just hope others aren't wondering the same thing.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

The way I view myself is I'm me with different expressions and facets of my personality. I'm no less me when I clean the house than when I write a novel. I'm no less me when I hug my Mom than when I encourage someone on a blog.

Great thoughts, Janna. You really got me thinking. :)

Blessings,
Susan

Janna Qualman said...

Tamika - So many facets! And I think it's a good thing.

Thanks, Melissa. :)

Aw, Terri. I have my moments, I guess. ;)

Heather - LOL! Surely not.

Susan, yes! Exactly.

Deb Shucka said...

This is a great post. I think all of us are probably many different beings, which shift over time. I jump when the phone rings, too. Have forever. Are we weird?

septembermom said...

I can relate to this post. I definitely have a "real life" Kelly, a virtual "Kelly" and a "poet" Kelly. I like that they are distinct, but there are days that I wish I could integrate aspects of all three.

MichaƩle said...

Love this post. I was just thinking this morning what happened to the "old me," who would have jumped out of bed on a Sunday morning to get three toddlers ready for church. Today, I got a cup of coffee and went back to bed....there are too many "me's" to define but I love your definitions!

Devon Ellington said...

I work hard to try to integrate. I find that's one of the perks of writing full time -- I simply use the facet most relevant, instead of sectioning myself off for different tasks.

Kara said...

Ahh, yes the trinity of sorts! I, too, mutter things to my dogs and hope nobody hears:)

Carol J. Garvin said...

I'm late to comment, but just found this post as I was looking back through your blog. I love how you've explored each facet of who you are. Like elastic in the waistband, who we are expands with each added perspective... how a friend sees us, for instance... or each new role we take on. Sometimes the multiplicity is enriching; other times it can seem overwhelming, as when we're trying too hard to "be all things". A good thought-provoking post, Janna!