Are you nobody, too?
Then there ’s a pair of us—don’t tell!
They ’d banish us, you know.
How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!
I just changed my Twitter handle from an email nickname to my real name, which I’ve been slowly making more available to blog readers, too. It’s a strange journey from six or seven years ago, when I hadn’t thought about whether it mattered if I identified myself on the Internet, to joining the generation of anonymous or pseudonymous bloggers, and now to recognize that by cloaking myself in the persona (much enjoyed) of Songbird, I’ve done exactly the opposite of what I hoped to do when I began my work in ordained ministry, which is to forge my own identity.
Now, identity is not the same as fame. I never thought it was. If I wanted to leverage fame–someone else’s–I might have kept and traded on my maiden name. I was wearing it when I graduated from seminary. I could easily have kept it when I married again; I could have been ordained with it.
But I had this notion that I could be in the world with my own name, though borrowed from a spouse, and develop my own reputation as a pastor and a person and maybe a writer. I had no idea I would be building a group of friends and readers using a nickname; I could not imagine or predict Facebook, where I daily communicate with a strange admixture of childhood friends and mom or academic bloggers (met and unmet in real life) and people from right here in Maine and lots and lots of RevGalBlogPals and my own children, too. I couldn’t have foreseen Twitter, where in blasts of 140 characters I do–what? I don’t even know, really. Keep up with friends who are too busy to blog anymore, make a few new connections, carry on behind-the-scenes conversations if my tweets are “protected” as they sometimes are, and give up that hope in the seasons I decide they won’t be.
I don’t know how much I care anymore about being a writer, which is to say being published. There are those who would argue that if you are unpublished you are not a writer. And I suppose if I were called to write books, I would have had an idea for one by now. I hope, now that I’ll be preaching regularly again, to get back to writing about life and the lectionary here.
Mostly I’m a little sorry that a tremendous amount of my effort over the past five years belongs to a cartoon character more than to me. And at 49, I want to claim my work and my life, for me at least, whether or not it matters to anyone else.
I’m writing, even if that doesn’t make me a writer.
I’m Martha, and I’m nobody. Who are you?