Alter Ego #atozchallenge


All authors have at least one alter ego. It is the mechanism that helps us separate ourselves from our own realities. The alter ego allows us to change our own pathology, if only to sacrifice our characters to the mercy of the muse. For example, “my true self” considers death to be a somber, saddening occurrence. When I hear of it on the news or read it in a paper, my heart breaks for the mothers and fathers of the deceased.

On the other hand, my author self does not recoil from death. In fact, in the writing of Willow Moon, I have played out the death of most of my characters in great detail and with satisfaction. I have killed my characters in both grotesque and poetic ways but I have never felt sadness or remorse for them. My alter ego understands, very clearly that death is just another end on a list of possible (and less impactful) endings.

This “splitting” of myself is both my blessing and my curse; one that I’m sure many fellow authors have struggled with. The relationship between an author’s true self and alter ego is ambiguous at best. I have tried to understand what underlying beliefs, ideas, and notions dry my author self but this ego changes as often as my characters, plots, themes and conflicts do. I’m not sure if this change is a result of my lack of writer’s “niche” or if my lack of niche is a result of my ever changing ego.

As I am researching for Light Without, I have come in contact with some of Carl Jung’s work. Jung theorized that we all have  a shadow self and on this matter he wrote:

“Everyone carries a shadow… and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is. It may be one’s link to more primitive animal instincts, which are superseded during early childhood by the conscious mind.”

Jung himself expressed multiple personalities which he named No 1 and No 2. They were very opposite in thought and manner. Perhaps this is what lead to his study of the unconcious mind and when he renamed his two personalities “ego” and “self”, it became clear that he saw his own “splitting” as a lack of balance between these two separate parts of his own psyche. Perhaps I, too, suffer from a split psyche. If this is true, I hope I never find balance. I hope I never “become one” because I see my alter ego as the catalyst for my writing.

My alter ego allows me to explore people and worlds which would be normally be out of reach to my true self. It allows me to step outside myself and explore patterns of thinking which are foreign to myself. On the other hand, I create characters and stories that will (hopefully) enrich the lives and patterns of thinking among the collective consciousness. Jung was, apparently, disturbed by the variety of complexes (part-personalities) that one person can have. Although there are positive connotation for a lot of this in his work, he always warned of the psychosis that can occur when one fails to maintain a balance between the two. For me, this “imbalance”, is a beautiful and enlightening experience…one that I would be half the person without.

To my fellow writers: tell me about your alter ego. Is your “author self” ever changing or do you have a certain mind frame that you get into for multiple pieces? What is the relationship between your alter ego and true self?

11 thoughts on “Alter Ego #atozchallenge

  1. My alter ego I guess would be the Sun card in Tarot. I see the beauty in the larger picture, that death has a way of bringing about changes in ways people in the moment can’t see. In a way, it is a very silent place as I watch, but at the same time very loud as I listen. Hard to explain and I’m sure I’m making no sense.

    • Actually, you are making perfect sense to me. I understand how something can look very quiet out the outside but be very loud in your head as you receive sensory information and begin putting it into words. 😀

  2. For me, one of the charms of writing, and especially in developing characters is stepping out of my own skin and into that of someone else. I enjoy hurting my characters because then I have the opportunity to experience a hurt that is not mine. I cry my character’s tears, feel their pain that is both real and separate from myself. It’s very liberating, and very refreshing. So I understand what you mean about an alter ego. I would not want these emotions in my own life, nor would I want them experienced by a real person, but for my characters, I want them to hurt, and to bring them to the edge of breaking, because then I can safely see that edge as well.

  3. Thank you for posing the question. Since you got me thinking about it, I’ve actually noticed that I have several writing egos. I am currently focusing on writing for the youth market, but I also have mature and darker subjects rustling around my creative brain asking to be heard. It’s fun to take a single story idea and sketch it out in different genres and for different audiences. And I find the exercise requires a different author’s mindset, calibrated according to the approach. As for the “real me,” I’m not sure if I can distinguish that from the “writer me(s).” We’re rather tightly tangled. 🙂

  4. Suzanne Ong

    I’m only starting out with writing, testing out the waters, so to speak, so I haven’t thought of it that way, that I could write with an alter ego. I’ve always have an interest in fantasy/dystopian/sci-fi books, but I couldn’t bring myself to actually write that genre ’cause I’m personally a girly girl and it’s just hard for me. Maybe I should give that alter ego thing a try. I look forward to reading your next post 🙂
    -fellow A-Z blogger

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